BALTIMORE (AP)—Facing adversity for the first time this season after losing two starting outfielders, the Baltimore Orioles showed their resiliency, depth and good humor during a thoroughly satisfying afternoon.
Before the game, Baltimore placed center fielder Luis Matos on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right ring finger. The move came less than 24 hours after right fielder Sammy Sosa went on the DL with an abscess and staph infection on the bottom of his left foot.
Sensing a letdown, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli addressed his players before the game.
“You lose key guys, and it’s very easy to put your head between your legs,” Mazzilli said. “I told them, ‘You’re a good team. You’ve just got to tighten the straps and rely on everyone in the clubhouse.”’
The first-place Orioles received significant contributions from several players, including Larry Bigbie, who played center and went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and Jay Gibbons, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI as the starting right fielder.
“It’s a tribute to B.J.,” Bigbie said.
And the perfect topper to an uplifting victory.
“For me, this was our best win of the year,” Mazzilli said. “You lose two-thirds of your outfield, you face one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball, and give him two leads and come back and battle the way we did, it’s our best win. Without a doubt.”
Ponson (5-1) gave up two earned runs and six hits to earn his fourth straight win and improve to 9-2 lifetime against the Twins. The right-hander did not allow a hit after the third and faced the minimum 15 batters over his final five innings.
B.J. Ryan got three outs for his ninth save in 10 chances. Ryan had six saves during Baltimore’s 8-4 homestand.
“I’ll take that every time,” Gibbons said. “You go 8-4 on every homestand, you’re in the playoffs.”
Santana allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out eight and walking one before leaving with the score tied at 4.
“They’re hot right now, they’re playing good baseball,” Santana said.
With the score 4-all, Miguel Tejada led off the eighth with a double off Matt Guerrier (0-1). After a walk to Javy Lopez, J.C. Romero came in to face Surhoff, who attempted a bunt before bouncing a single inside the first-base line.
“B.J. reaches out and taps the ball down the first-base line in the right spot,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “If he hits it two yards over, we got a double play.”
A two-out throwing error by third baseman Terry Tiffee and a bases-loaded walk to Bigbie completed the scoring.
Shannon Stewart had two hits and scored twice for the Twins, who lost two of three to the Orioles after coming to town with a four-game winning streak.
“You have to credit all those guys over there because they’re doing a pretty good job right now,” Santana said.
Minnesota got a run in the first when Stewart singled and scored on a wild pitch. Doubles by Lopez, Chris Gomez and Gibbons put the Orioles ahead 2-1 in the second.
The Twins took advantage of two errors to regain the lead with a three-run third. Poor throws by Ponson and Gibbons led to a pair of unearned runs during an inning in which Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter hit RBI singles and Justin Morneau had a sacrifice fly.
But Minnesota got only two baserunners against Ponson the rest of the way, both on walks, and each was erased on a double play.
Baltimore made it 4-all with a two-run fifth. Gibbons doubled and scored on a single by Brian Roberts, who advanced on a single by Bigbie and came home on a wild pitch.
The Orioles committed three errors and have nine in their last four games, but used two fielding gems to turn double plays in the seventh and eighth innings. … Santana was trying to tie Jon Garland for the AL lead in wins (six).