SAN DIEGO (AP)—This was real Moneyball.
Moments after a few dozen dollar bills floated down from the stands onto the field, Alberto Castillo hit his first home run in more than two years and the Baltimore Orioles cashed in, beating the San Diego Padres 6-3 on Thursday.
Although starter Erik Bedard strained a hamstring and Miguel Tejada lasted just one at-bat, the last-place Orioles took two of three from the Padres. San Diego, which has the NL’s best record at 41-30, retained its lead in the West by percentage points over Arizona heading into a weekend series against the Boston Red Sox (46-25), who have baseball’s best record.
The consecutive wins came after a nine-game losing streak by Baltimore, which fired manager Sam Perlozzo on Monday and replaced him with Dave Trembley on an interim basis.
Castillo’s solo homer, off former teammate David Wells, was literally a money shot. Shortly before his at-bat in the sixth inning, the dollar bills came wafting from high in the seats, with several landing in left field and in foul territory, and some reaching the Orioles’ dugout.
“Oh my goodness. I’ve never seen that before,” Castillo said. “If I wasn’t playing, I would probably chase the money, too.”
Padres spokesman George Stieren said the bills were thrown by a fan in a suite. The fan was ejected.
After Castillo returned to the dugout, teammate Freddie Bynum handed him a cap with some bills in it, a twist on the tradition of fans passing the hat after a homer in the minors.
Castillo declined to take it.
“He was making a joke like, ‘We were collecting for you because you went deep,”’ Castillo said.
“We hadn’t passed the hat since the minor leagues, so we were trying to get up a little money for him,” Bynum said. “I gave my three dollars to the bat boy.”
Padres left fielder Jose Cruz Jr. picked up a few bills. After the inning, a ballgirl picked up the rest.
“I was ready to call time out and put some in my pocket, although I didn’t see any 20s or 50s or 100s,” Wells said. “It was kind of cool. It was fun for the fans. It wasn’t fun for me.”
Castillo, the backup catcher, homered for the first time since April 19, 2005, against Cleveland while with Kansas City. His shot went down the left-field line, hitting the corner of the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse and giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
Castillo caught Wells while they were teammates in Toronto in 2000. He said the big left-hander threw one too many curveballs.
“I was thinking, ‘If he keeps throwing me those breaking balls, one of them is out of here.’ And look what happened.”
Said Wells: “I tried to throw a slow curveball and I guess he was guessing with me. He hung in there. It was my bad. I must have got it up there too much.”
Castillo also hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1.
Bedard (5-4) gave up two runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked none, and left after straining his left hamstring.
Trembley doesn’t think the injury is severe enough to put Bedard on the disabled list.
Bedard couldn’t gauge how serious it was.
“I’ve never had it before so I couldn’t tell you,” he said.
Wells (3-5) went 6 1-3 innings and allowed 10 hits for the second straight start. He gave up three runs, two earned, struck out four and walked three.
Tejada, who was hit on the left wrist by a pitch Wednesday night, appeared just long enough to extend his streak of consecutive games played to 1,152, the fifth-longest in big league history.
Tejada hit a dribbler in the first inning that forced Roberts at second. Gomez then pinch-ran for Tejada and stayed in the game at shortstop.
“He said he was OK before the game,” Trembley said. “He said he wanted to give it a shot. And when he got up there he didn’t feel comfortable. When he didn’t feel comfortable after that at-bat, he still wanted to play.”
Trembley said he had to “walk a fine line between doing what’s right for the team and what’s right for Tejada, out of respect. Today, I took him out of the game for the team, but I allowed him to have that at-bat out of respect for him.”
The Red Sox make their first visit to Petco Park this weekend and the three-game series will feature some terrific pitching matchups. On Friday night, Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka will start in the same ballpark where he pitched Japan to victory over Cuba in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on March 20, 2006, winning the tournament MVP award, as well. He’ll oppose Greg Maddux. Saturday’s matchup is Tim Wakefield against Chris Young, with Sunday’s finale featuring 10-game winner Josh Beckett against Padres ace Jake Peavy, who is 9-1 with an NL-leading 1.98 ERA.