K-Rod blows save as Mets fall to O's
The Baltimore Orioles were 0-34 when trailing after eight innings, and they were down a run in the ninth when New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez entered the game.
K-Rod's 0.56 ERA was exquisite enough, but the right-hander also had 16 saves in 17 chances - the exception coming by virtue of a dropped popup against the hated Yankees.
Twenty pitches later, the Orioles celebrated perhaps their most uplifting performance of the season.
Aubrey Huff drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning single, capping a two-run rally that carried Baltimore to a 5-4 victory Thursday night.
Asked if this was the most satisfying win of the season, Adam Jones said, "Yeah, this is. It's off arguably the best closer in all of baseball. To get a win like that ..."
Rodriguez, who last yielded an earned run on April 27, made no excuses after allowing five of the six batters he faced to reach base.
"It was awful. I didn't get the job done," he said. "I'm a human being. Unfortunately, days like this are going to happen. It happened to me and I've just got to move on."
Matt Wieters led off the ninth with a double and Nolan Reimold walked. Brian Roberts laid down a bunt, and the throw to third by catcher Omir Santos was too late to nail pinch-runner Felix Pie.
Rodriguez (1-2) then walked Jones to force in a run, and after Nick Markakis struck out, Huff hit a liner to right - his second straight game-deciding hit. One night earlier, his seventh-inning homer broke a tie in Baltimore's 6-4 win.
"That one felt better than the home run," Huff said of the single.
After he touched first, the veteran was buried under a pile of his teammates in an impromptu - and improbable - celebration.
"When something like that happens, you don't really feel it," Huff said.
Matt Albers (1-2) pitched the ninth and Robert Andino homered for the Orioles, who took two of three from the Mets.
Held to one infield hit over the first five innings by rookie Jason Berken, New York rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh. Alex Cora got the first hit in each inning and scored twice.
Baltimore closed to 4-3 in the eighth when Huff doubled and scored on a groundout by Luke Scott, and the Orioles completed the unlikely comeback against K-Rod in the ninth.
"You know at some point that he's not going to be perfect," manager Jerry Manuel said of his closer. "He's been able to walk that tightrope here occasionally, but he's been able to get it done. Tonight, it just didn't happen his way."
Mets starter Livan Hernandez gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings. He left with the lead, and although the bullpen gave it away, remained unbeaten since April 23.
After putting only one runner in scoring position through the fifth, the Mets pulled even in the sixth. Singles by Cora and Carlos Beltran preceded a sacrifice fly by David Wright, and after Gary Sheffield singled, Ryan Church hit an RBI single off the right-field wall.
Berken retired the first two batters in the seventh before Cora singled and scored on a double by Daniel Murphy. Beltran followed with a run-scoring single off Danys Baez.
Making his fifth career start, Berken allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He had a career-high eight strikeouts, getting Wright, Santos and Murphy twice.
Andino put the Orioles up 1-0 in the third with his first home run since April 7, 2008, with Florida.
Baltimore added a run in the fifth when Roberts ended an 0-for-12 skid with an RBI double. But with the bases loaded and one out, Markakis struck out and Huff lined out to Luis Castillo at second base.
"You felt the momentum shift to them when I hit the line drive that Castillo caught," Huff said. "I just tried to stay as calm as possible after that. To come up there in that situation again, to deliver was really nice."
Baltimore 3B Melvin Mora has hit in 16 of his last 19 games, but has gone 34 straight games without a home run - the third-longest drought of his career. ... The Mets have not made an error this season while Hernandez is pitching.