07/10/10 3:47 AM ET
O's dig the long ball in another late rally
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
The suddenly cardiac O's, who hadn't come back to win a road game when trailing after seven innings before Thursday night, staged an improbable rally once again on Friday.
The drama played out in two acts: First was the top of the ninth against Rangers All-Star closer Neftali Feliz, with Corey Patterson's grand slam tying the game, and then in the top of the 10th, new addition Jake Fox won the game with a home run for a 7-6 victory over first-place Texas.
The Orioles won for just the fifth time in 86 games this season when trailing after seven innings. Even more, they have erased two four-run leads in the past two nights. The Orioles scored three runs in the eighth inning to slip past the Rangers, 6-4, on Thursday. They upped it to five runs in the ninth and 10th innings Friday.
It's easily the most positive development of the season for a team that has lifted itself to 33 games under .500 with these two improbable wins.
"These guys are not giving up," Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said. "We have fallen behind in games early and we have been able to fight back."
The Orioles appeared down and out with Feliz coming into the game with a four-run lead and the clock approaching 2 a.m. ET because of a 2 hour, 29 minute rain delay before the game even started.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out on singles by Adam Jones and Craig Tatum and a walk to Scott Moore. Pinch-hitter Josh Bell, who was sent back to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, struck out for the second out, setting the stage for Patterson.
Patterson worked the count to 2-2, and then belted a changeup from Feliz into the home-run porch in right field to tie the game at 6. It was Patterson's first career grand slam in the 1,055th game of his Major League career.
"Obviously it was great with the grand slam and the timing, being able to tie the game up," Patterson said. " It took me a few years."
Patterson said he felt like he had Feliz's 98-100 mph fastball timed, fouling off the first two, forcing Rangers catcher Bengie Molina to make a trip to the mound. Patterson was still looking fastball after taking one for a ball, but in the back of his mind he thought Feliz might try something else. He did.
"Everything he throws is hard," Patterson said. "If I get tricked, I'll get tricked, that's fine. I was not going to be late on the fastball."
Reliever Jason Berken then kept the Orioles' hopes alive for another miracle finish, working his way into a first and second jam with two outs before getting first baseman Chris Davis to fly out to left field to end the ninth inning.
That set the stage for Fox, acquired on June 22 from Oakland for a Minor League pitcher. Fox, who entered the game when Felix Pie left after the top of the sixth with a left quadriceps strain, caught a break getting to face erratic Rangers reliever Dustin Nippert.
Fox worked the count full and delivered the go-ahead home run over the left-field fence to play the role of the Orioles' late-game hero.
"It just shows that we're not going to roll over and play dead," Fox said. "We're going to get after some people and see what we can do the rest of the season."
Orioles rookie starter Brian Matusz, who had put together a solid month of June with a 3.69 ERA, was the victim of the bad-ball hitting of Vladimir Guerrero, who reached out and golfed out a changeup for a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning as Texas took a 3-0 lead.
"I wanted to bounce it," Matusz said. "I wanted to see if he would chase it down in the zone. It was down. It was below the knee a little bit. He has that long swing and he's able to cover the ball down in the zone really well. It was a bad pitch, but that wasn't the only thing I did wrong today. The walks, I never got into a groove."
Matusz, who had allowed one hit in the first two innings, lost it after that as the Rangers sent 10 men to the plate. A walk to Joaquin Arias plated the fourth run of the inning. Matusz was able to get Elvis Andrus to ground out with the bases loaded to the end inning, but his night was done.
It was Matusz's shortest outing since going 2 1/3 innings here in Texas on May 20, when the Rangers scorched him for seven runs and eight hits. Matusz had lasted at least five innings in his next eight starts, including going at least six innings in his past five starts.
Like Thursday, when the Orioles rallied for a 6-4 victory -- their first road victory when trailing after seven innings -- they did pull within 4-2 with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Ty Wigginton hit an RBI single in the fourth and Patterson hit an RBI single in the fifth.
The bullpen gave the Orioles a lift by throwing seven innings without allowing an earned run -- the Rangers did score two runs on two errors in the bottom of the eighth to make it 6-2. But the Orioles were not fazed, a strange turnaround considering what has gone on with this club all season long.
Samuel was asked after the game, right around 3:30 a.m. ET, if this was the best win for him as a manager. He wasn't sleepy eyed with his response."
"Being down like that," Samuel said. "Corey coming back to hit the grand slam to tie the game and then Fox hitting the home run there, I'd say yes."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.