Wieters does it all in Orioles' win over Rays

BY foxsports • September 17, 2009

First, Matt Wieters stopped the Tampa Bay Rays with his arm.

Then he beat them with his bat.

Wieters hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Russ Springer, giving the Baltimore Orioles a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay went up 2-1 in the top half when Ben Zobrist hit a 3-2 pitch from Jim Johnson over the center-field wall. It was the fifth blown save for Johnson (4-5).

But in the bottom half, Luke Scott drew a leadoff walk from Springer (0-4) and Wieters hit a drive that landed in the front row of the seats in left. The rookie catcher, who had a homer and five RBIs on Tuesday, rounded the bases and jumped on home plate and into the arms of his teammates.

"I was going to look for a fastball early and try to put a good swing on it. I was fortunate enough that it carried out," Wieters said. "It's a situation where you might bunt, but they gave me the sign to swing away and try and drive something."

Wieters twice threw out fleet-footed Carl Crawford trying to steal second. It was the second time in his career Crawford was nabbed twice in the same game; the other was April 10, 2007.

Crawford has 57 steals and has been thrown out 14 times, but is only 27 for 41 after opening the season with 30 straight stolen bases.

"Wieters did it behind the plate and did it with the bat. He had a great game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Threw out Crawford - release was quick, good footwork, right on the bag - and hits a walk-off."

Gregg Zaun homered for the Rays, who have lost 13 of 14 to drop to .500 (73-73) for the first time since June 11, when they were 31-31.

"I love the fact that we came back out and tied it up," manager Joe Maddon said.

And then Wieters untied it.

"When it left, I didn't think it was going that far. He's just a strong young man and the ball kept carrying," Maddon said.

It landed just beyond the reach of Crawford, who leaped in vain at the wall.

"I tried to put my arm over the rail, but it was kind of slick and I couldn't get a good grip," said Crawford, who can hardly believe the Rays are a .500 club again.

"You definitely didn't expect this, but you just deal with it," he said. "I never thought we'd end up like this."

Making his 10th start since being summoned from Triple-A Norfolk on July 29, Orioles rookie Chris Tillman gave up five hits and one walk in 6 2-3 innings. The 21-year-old retired the first 10 batters and faced one above the minimum over five innings.

After Tampa Bay used singles by Evan Longoria and Willy Aybar to put runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh, Matt Albers replaced Tillman and struck out B.J. Upton to preserve a 2-1 lead.

Danys Baez worked the eighth, and the bottom half was halted by rain for 1 hour, 40 minutes. After the stoppage, only a few hundred of the announced crowd of 10,548 remained.

They hit the exits after Scott walked and Wieters homered on the following pitch.

"He's been holding his own in this league," Scott said of Wieters. "This is not an easy league. It's a tough league and he's been doing good. The more hits he gets, the happier I'm going to be because I'm going to get better pitches to hit in the future."

Tampa Bay's Andy Sonnanstine allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. It was the first time in nine starts since May 22 that he permitted fewer than two earned runs.

The Orioles went up 1-0 in the second when Melvin Mora hit a leadoff double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wieters. In the fourth, Brian Roberts reached on an error and scored on a two-out double by Scott.

Zaun homered leading off the sixth, his seventh of the season and third since coming to the Rays from Baltimore on Aug. 8.


For the first time in eight games, the Orioles did not yield a first-inning run. ... Tampa Bay is 1-9 on a trip that mercifully ends Thursday night in Baltimore. ... The Orioles lead the season series 7-6. They were 3-15 vs. the AL champion Rays last year.

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