Cabrera leads Orioles past punchless

BALTIMORE, MD—Daniel Cabrera began his night by allowing three of the first four batters to reach base. At that point, it appeared as if the unpredictable right-hander was poised for another poor performance against the Texas Rangers.

Cabrera worked out of trouble, then stymied the struggling Rangers through the sixth inning to help the Baltimore Orioles breeze to a 9-0 victory Saturday night.

Melvin Mora homered and had four RBIs, Nick Markakis also connected and Brian Roberts scored three runs for the Orioles, who won the first two games of the series by a combined 18-1 score. On Sunday, Baltimore will seek its first three-game sweep of the Rangers since 2000.

Cabrera (8-7) allowed four hits in an unusually effective showing against the Rangers. He was 1-6 with a 6.33 ERA in eight previous appearances against Texas, including 0-3 at home.

Ian Kinsler opened the game with a single, and the Rangers loaded the bases with one out before Cabrera retired Marlon Byrd on a popup and struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 3-2 pitch.

“I think it changed the whole game to get out of that jam with no runs,” Cabrera said.

Presented with a similar situation in the bottom half—bases loaded, one out—Baltimore got an RBI single from Kevin Millar.

“The difference in the game tonight, the way I saw it, was Cabrera got out of the first inning and then we scored,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “If he didn’t get out of the first inning you don’t know. It would be a coin toss there.”

The Rangers viewed it as an important missed opportunity. After being limited to one run in the previous two games, breaking out quickly against Cabrera might have been just what Texas needed to get its offense working again.

But it didn’t happen.

“I completely messed up the flow of the game,” Byrd said. “I’m blaming me.”

Said Kinsler: “The first inning was big for Cabrera, for his confidence, to settle down.”

Texas managed only four hits the rest of the way, one over the last three innings against three relievers. The Rangers have lost four straight and have scored only two runs in 34 innings.

Part of the problem is that Texas is without injured sluggers Milton Bradley and David Murphy. The lineup was further depleted by the loss of All-Star Michael Young in the fourth inning to a finger injury, although manager Ron Washington said the shortstop would probably return to the lineup Sunday.

The Rangers’ lack of offense was nearly overshadowed by their poor pitching, which allowed Baltimore to score nine runs in a second straight game. Mora, who singled in two runs in the fourth inning and hit a two-run homer in the seventh, has 26 RBIs in 20 games since the All-Star break.

Texas starter Vicente Padilla (12-6) allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings to drop his first decision in five starts since July 4, when he yielded eight runs to the Orioles. The right-hander is 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA against Baltimore and 12-4 with a 4.13 ERA against everyone else.

“You just want to go home, put it behind you,” Byrd said. “We had our ace on the mound and we got our butts kicked. The Orioles, man, they can hit over there.”

Markakis put Baltimore up 4-0 in the second, hitting his 17th home run after Juan Castro got the first of his three singles and Roberts walked.

Padilla retired the side in order in the third, but again ran into trouble in the fourth. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Mora, who lined a single up the middle.

Roberts hit an RBI single in the fifth, and Mora connected in the seventh off Joaquin Benoit for a 9-0 lead.