BALTIMORE (AP)—In the official scorebook, the play was recorded as a double steal.
Unofficially, an error in judgment by Brian Roberts resulted in botched rundown that enabled Corey Patterson to steal home, the key component in the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
With the score 1-all, Kevin Millar led off the fifth inning for Baltimore with a walk and Patterson singled to end an 0-for-18 skid. Roberts followed with an RBI single, moving Patterson to third.
With Melvin Mora in the batter’s box, Roberts thought Toronto starter Dustin McGowan was throwing toward the plate and broke for second. McGowan threw to first, and Roberts froze between the bases before getting caught in a rundown.
“I knew right when I took off I was in trouble, but when I realized Corey was over there it kind of eased my mind a little bit,” Roberts said. “I figured if I could just stay in there long enough, we might just score a run out of it.”
Patterson surveyed the situation before heading for home, and the throw from McGowan soared over the head of catcher Jason Phillips and bounced out of play. Patterson was credited with stealing home—the first Oriole to do so since Chris Richard in 2001—and Roberts ended up at third.
“(Roberts) did one tremendous job to stay in that rundown, and Corey was equally as good getting the jump and timing it just right,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “That was a big play.”
It turned out to be the pivotal run in a much-needed victory for the Orioles, who had lost seven of nine.
Although the Blue Jays did well to get Roberts in the rundown, they had the misfortune of trying to complete the play against Baltimore’s two most adept base runners.
“When you’ve got Patterson sitting on third and Roberts on the bases, it’s awful tough,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Roberts is one of those guys that can cause chaos out there and with Patterson sitting at third, you’ve got to be conscious of them because they can both fly.”
Roberts went 3-for-3 with two walks, and Orioles starter Steve Trachsel (3-3) allowed two runs, five hits and three walks in six innings. The right-hander left with a 3-2 lead, and the beleaguered Baltimore bullpen made the advantage stand up.
Before Chris Ray got three straight outs for his 11th save in 14 chances, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker each pitched a perfect inning. Coming in, Orioles relievers had yielded runs in 21 of 28 games since April 21, compiling a 6.33 ERA over that span.
“That kind of brought back memories from the first part of the season, when we were going so well and the bullpen was coming in and getting it done,” Perlozzo said.
McGowan (0-2) gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings. The right-hander pitched well enough to win, but his poor toss during the rundown proved costly.
“I’m not sure if I make a good throw I get him,” McGowan said. “I tried to hurry it up, dropped my elbow and it just sailed on me. It’d have to be a perfect throw.”
“Big, big hit. Tremendous hit,” Perlozzo said. “We needed those runs right there. That made everyone relax a little bit.”
It was the first time in nine games that the Orioles were involved in a game that wasn’t decided by two runs or fewer.
Baltimore got runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom half, but scored only once, on a sacrifice fly by Mora.
Trachsel is 5-0 in six career starts against Toronto. … Roberts is batting .419 (18-for-43) in his last 11 games. … Toronto has gone 2-9 in its last 11 road games and needs a win Thursday to win only its second series of at least three games on the road—the first since April 6-8 at Tampa Bay.