Rampant offseason trade rumors had him on the verge of joining the Chicago Cubs—and whether they were on target or not—he showed Tuesday night why he attracted so much interest.
Roberts had three hits to reach 1,000 for his career, closer George Sherrill struck out the side after the Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and the Orioles ended Chicago’s 14-game home-field winning streak with a 7-5 victory.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Roberts said. “The fans love their baseball. … What we dealt with for four months you think about it a little bit. It’s just a fun night to be part of.”
The Orioles led 7-1 before it got tense over the last few innings, especially the ninth.
Chicago loaded the bases off Sherrill on Geovany Soto’s single, a walk to Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot’s infield single before the left-hander found his strikeout pitch and got his 26th save in 29 chances.
“It makes it a little more stressful, but I don’t get nervous out there,” Sherrill said. “I get nervous when it’s someone else, not me.”
Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose team lost at home for the first time since May 17, wasn’t happy with his team’s final three at-bats.
“It was a good comeback. We got too far behind. … We didn’t have three good at-bats with the bases loaded. We didn’t swing at strikes,” Piniella said.
“We got to put the ball in play and we couldn’t,” Blanco said. “You do the best you can. This guy has 26 saves in the big leagues and you knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
Roberts had two singles and his sixth triple of the season, giving him 1,000 hits.
“I didn’t really think about it. But if it is a big hit, it makes it a little more significant,” Roberts said. “It didn’t seem like it at the time, but later in the game it turned out to be.”
Roberts, for sure, heard the trade rumors. He couldn’t help but do so during the offseason.
“I thought I was going to be a Cub in December,” Roberts said before the game. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. … Once the season started you just kinda go out and play your spot and the rest will take care of itself. I really haven’t thought about in a long time.”
Jeremy Guthrie (4-7) allowed only four hits and a run over the first six innings as the Orioles took a 7-1 lead.
But he was driven out in the seventh when Jim Edmonds hit a three-run homer after singles by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, slicing the lead to 7-4. After a walk, reliever Jim Johnson got DeRosa to hit into Chicago’s fourth double play of the night to douse the rally.
Ramirez hit an RBI single in the eighth and the Cubs still had two on before Sherrill relieved and got pinch-hitter Matt Murton to fly out.
Cubs’ starter Sean Marshall (0-1)—just recalled from Triple-A—lasted only 4 2-3 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs. The Orioles went up by six with three unearned runs in the sixth off reliever Michael Wuertz.
Fukudome hit his sixth homer leading off the fourth to make it 2-1.
Scott was initially credited with a double in the sixth when he hit a high pop that shortstop Theriot signaled was his. But when left fielder Eric Patterson called him off late, Theriot got out of his way and the ball dropped. The official scorer changed the ruling to an error on Patterson and one out later, Alex Cintron hit an RBI double.
He scored when Roberts drove one into the gap in right center for a triple. Markakis then delivered an RBI single.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said the Orioles are going to address their lack of depth at shortstop. The starting job has fallen to Alex Cintron. Freddie Bynum, who was designated for assignment two days ago, started 29 games at the position and Luis Hernandez 26 times. Hernandez was outrighted to the minors earlier this month after also being designated for assignment. … The Cubs are now 32-9 at home this season.