Indians sweep O's in Sizemore's return

BY foxsports • April 17, 2011

Manager Buck Showalter hasn't lost confidence in a Baltimore Orioles team struggling to get a win.

''We need to trust our people right now,'' Showalter said after a 4-2 loss to the off-and-running Cleveland Indians on Sunday. ''We're going to be a good ballclub before it is all over.''

Grady Sizemore homered in his return for Cleveland after undergoing major knee surgery last year. It was one of three solo shots for the Indians, who completed a three-game sweep.

''This really was one of those games where a couple pitches killed you,'' said Baltimore's Brad Bergesen (0-2), who gave up three runs over five innings.

''This series truly was tough,'' he said. ''A seven-game losing streak is no fun. But they are red hot right now, really playing well and making you pay for any mistake with a timely hit.''

The Indians have won 11 of 13, including their first seven-game home streak since 2007.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have totaled 17 runs in their slide after winning six of seven. They lost two at home to Texas, then two more in New York, including a 6-5 setback in 10 innings when the Yankees overcame a 5-1 deficit on Wednesday.

''This was a terrible trip,'' said first baseman Derrek Lee, who was 0 for 3 and grounded into a double play with two on in the fourth against Fausto Carmona (1-2). ''We didn't think scoring runs would be a problem for this team, but it is. ''We need to go home and turn it around.''

The Orioles open a 10-game homestand Monday against the Minnesota Twins, who have problems of their own in last place in the AL Central.

''That's not what our advance scouts say,'' Showalter said. ''We've played 10 to 15 games and everybody is looking for a trend that will last the entire season.''

The Twins, expected to compete for a third straight division title, are 5-10 with All-Star catcher Joe Mauer sidelined and closer Joe Nathan struggling.

''Nobody feels sorry for you in this game,'' Showalter said. ''We struggled on this trip and the guys are frustrated because they care. They put pressure on themselves because they are working hard to win. They are trying to make something happen - and it will.''

The return of Sizemore, Cleveland's hustling All-Star center fielder and leadoff man, from microfracture surgery on his left knee in May added to the Indians' surprising start.

He homered in his second at-bat and doubled in the fifth.

''I've been looking forward to this for a long time,'' Sizemore said before the game.

He was given a standing ovation when he came up in the first by Cleveland fans, many of whom have been diligently tracking the popular player's progress for months. Sizemore grounded out to second, but busted down the first-base line like always before being thrown out.

In the third, Sizemore didn't have to run as hard.

He drove a 2-0 pitch from Bergeson over the wall in right for his first homer since Aug. 27, 2009, at Baltimore, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Sizemore doubled into the right-field corner in the fifth.

Carmona worked seven strong innings, allowing one earned run and five hits. Chris Perez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.

Brian Roberts went 3 for 4 for the Orioles, who have lost eight of 10, effectively erasing their 4-0 start.

The Orioles had runners at the corners with one out in the seventh but scored just once. After getting Luke Scott to line to left for a sacrifice fly, Carmona retired the next two batters on ground balls to short.

''Scott smacked it hard, but it was right at the left fielder,'' Showalter said. ''It's very frustrating right now, we're getting some bad breaks.''

Baltimore also blew a chance in the fourth. The Orioles put two on with none out and had the meat of their order coming up, but Carmona got Lee to bounce into a double play and struck out Vladimir Guerrero.

Carlos Santana snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a leadoff homer in the second. Travis Hafner hit his fourth homer with one out in the sixth off reliever Jeremy Accardo for a 4-1 lead. Hafner didn't connect for his fourth homer last season until May 22, in Cleveland's 41st game.

Baltimore went 5 for 24 with runners in scoring position in the series.

Notes: Baltimore's starters have a 8.45 ERA during the losing streak. The Orioles' staff has given up 48 earned runs in the last seven games after allowing only 14 in the first seven. ... Orioles RHP Koji Uehara walked Shin-Soo Choo in the eighth, the first walk he'd given up in 36 appearances. It's the third-longest streak in history. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckerskey went 41 games and John Smoltz 38.



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