Indians 9, Orioles 6

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Trot Nixon played in 982 games with Boston without getting five hits in a game. In his 22nd appearance with the Cleveland Indians, he went 5-for-5 and added a whopping 49 points to his batting average.

Nixon drove in four runs and scored twice, C.C. Sabathia remained unbeaten despite allowing nine hits, and the Indians beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-6 Sunday.

Signed as a free agent in January after spending his entire career with the Red Sox, Nixon came in batting a respectable .271. He finished at .320, second-best on the team behind Victor Martinez (.337).

“I was just fortunate to have the kind of day that I did today. I found the holes when I needed to,” Nixon said. “Having those kind of at-bats, it’s a morale booster. The biggest thing for us is just winning the ballgame. We lost two games in a row here.”

Nixon was 1-for-15 this season against left-handed pitchers before getting two hits apiece against Brian Burres and Kurt Birkins.

“Most of the time, I face lefties who come out of the bullpen, and those guys are not very fun,” Nixon said. “You get an opportunity to face guys who are starters, it seems like it’s a little bit different out there.”

He added his career-high fifth hit in the eighth—an RBI single—against right-hander Todd Williams.

“Trot was great,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Against those left-handers out there, he got us going. This guy puts up probably as professional an at-bat you’ll see. He fights. He doesn’t give in.”

Casey Blake and Jason Michaels each drove in two runs for the Indians, who finished with a season-high 16 hits.

Sabathia (5-0) allowed three runs, struck out nine and walked one in seven innings. The left-hander is 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in nine career appearances against the Orioles.

“I was (in) a lot of 2-1 counts, 3-1 counts, 3-2 counts,” Sabathia said. “My command wasn’t there like it usually has been this year. You see me have to battle.”

Ramon Hernandez had four hits and four RBIs for the Orioles. He has driven in eight runs in his last two games and has 14 RBIs in nine games this season.

After Hernandez’s RBI single in the ninth, Joe Borowski got one out for his 11th save in 12 chances.

Making his first major league start, Burres (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out the side on 15 pitches in the first inning, then let nine of the next 16 batters reach base.

“I just fell behind a lot. You can’t really do that,” Burres said. “I don’t know if it was nerves or jitters, I just wasn’t throwing the ball where I wanted to.”

Burres was moved from the bullpen to replace an injured Adam Loewen in the starting rotation. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo called Burres’ lack of command “uncharacteristic” but would not commit to giving him another start.

“That’s not really the Burres we know,” Perlozzo said, “so we’ll chalk that up maybe to nervous jitters.”

Down 3-1, the Indians took the lead for good with a four-run fourth. Ryan Garko singled before Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder that nicked the back of the infield grass and took a crazy bounce past third baseman Melvin Mora for a single. Nixon followed with an RBI single, and Blake walked to load the bases.

Josh Barfield popped out on a 3-1 count, but Grady Sizemore chased Burres with an RBI single. Michaels then greeted Birkins with a two-run double off the left-field wall.

Cleveland made it 8-3 in the fifth. After Birkins hit Garko with a pitch and walked Peralta, Nixon doubled in a run and Blake hit a two-run double.

Baltimore loaded the bases with one out in the sixth before Sabathia struck out Kevin Millar on a 3-2 pitch. Corey Patterson then hit a drive to right-center, but Sizemore ran it down and snagged the ball with a last-second dive.

Sabathia concluded his performance with a perfect seventh.

“Seven innings, three runs, we’ll take that any time,” Wedge said.

In the Baltimore eighth, Nick Markakis hit a sacrifice fly and Millar singled in a run off Fernando Cabrera.

Nixon singled in a run to put Cleveland up 1-0 in the second. Hernandez hit a three-run double to make it 3-1 in the third.

Notes

The 16 hits allowed by the Orioles were a season high; Baltimore countered with a season-high 15 hits. … Hernandez stole second in the second inning, his first steal since June 3, 2006. … Brian Roberts is 1-for-16 lifetime against Sabathia, and Mora is 2-for-19 against the left-hander.

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