Tigers 3, Orioles 1

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Nate Robertson was throwing brilliantly, yet he was locked in a scoreless game when Baltimore Orioles starter Jaret Wright walked off the mound with an ominous shoulder injury.

Minutes later, a throwing error by Brian Roberts provided the Detroit Tigers with all the runs they needed Tuesday night in a 3-1 victory.

Robertson (2-0) allowed no runs and four hits, struck out five and walked one in 7 1-3 innings. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in four starts against Baltimore dating to last season.

“He just mixes pitches well. He had a good sinker, a good slider and mixed in some changes,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s a bulldog, you know, and he’s a real tough competitor.”

In the pivotal sixth inning, Wright (0-2) gave up an infield hit and a walk before summoning Orioles trainer Brian Ebel from the dugout. After a brief discussion, Wright left with stiffness in his right shoulder.

Wright said he began to feel stiffness when he started throwing in the fifth inning. Because he has a history of shoulder problems, Wright knew it wouldn’t be prudent to test his arm any further on a chilly night at Camden Yards.

“I know if I kept going that I could probably really hurt it. I just want to give myself a chance to let the doctors work on it and see what they can do with it,” he said. “If it was routine soreness, I would still be out there throwing. It just kept getting tighter, and I didn’t want to keep pushing it.”

Wright said that kind of tightness is consistent with the feeling he’s had in the past when experiencing shoulder problems. The right-hander spent half the 2005 season on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain and missed much of the 2002 season with the same ailment.

Obtained by the Orioles in an offseason trade with the New York Yankees, Wright came in with a 15.43 ERA after getting rocked by Minnesota last week in his Baltimore debut. He issued five walks in 2 1-3 innings against the Twins, but he did not walk a Detroit batter until the sixth.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo replaced Wright with Scott Williamson, who had not pitched since opening day in part because he was dealing with the aftereffects of a bout with bronchitis.

Placido Polanco reached when no one fielded his attempted sacrifice bunt down the third-base line. That loaded the bases for Gary Sheffield, who extended his hitless run to 11 at-bats by striking out. Magglio Ordonez followed by hitting a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Tejada flipped the ball to Roberts at second base for the force out, but Roberts’ relay throw skipped past first baseman Kevin Millar and into the seats, allowing two runs to score.

“I threw a ball in the dirt at the wrong time. It’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Roberts said. “I’d like to do it an 8-0 game, but it’s one of those things.”

Leyland said, “Polanco did a good job of getting down there on the double-play ball and got up on (Roberts) and made it a real nasty play for him. We got a break there.”

Roberts wouldn’t use that as an excuse.

“You always have a runner coming down on you. Every now and then you get a guy that bails off, but it’s part of the game. I’ve done it a million times,” he said.

In the eighth, Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff double off Jeremy Guthrie, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Polanco.

Joel Zumaya gave up a home run to Corey Patterson in the eighth and Todd Jones worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

The Orioles, meanwhile, had few scoring opportunities against Robertson. Baltimore wasted a leadoff double by Millar in the third inning, then got two on with one out in the fourth before Tejada—who came in batting .385 lifetime against Robertson—hit into a 1-4-3 double play.

“That could have been the turning point of the game. It’s too early in the game to look back and say much about it then, but it was big,” Robertson said. “We got the ground ball and the double play to get out of there. But that’s where you can make a manager antsy.”

Notes

Tigers 3B Brandon Inge, who’s 0-for-20 this season, wasn’t in the starting lineup. He entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement. … Granderson hit two doubles and has an extra-base hit in five of seven games. … Patterson’s first homer enabled the Orioles to avoid their first shutout.

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