|Aubrey Huff's tiebreaking homer in the eighth gave the Orioles their fourth straight win, although only 10,774 were on hand to see it. (GAIL BURTON/Associated Press)|
Surprise, surprise: The Baltimore Orioles own the best record in the American League and the Seattle Mariners are in last place.
Sure, the season is only in its second week. Yet the rebuilding Orioles already have plenty to celebrate, most notably their first four-game sweep of Seattle since 1999 and their best start in 10 years.
Aubrey Huff homered to break an eighth-inning tie, and Baltimore beat Seattle, 5-4, yesterday in front of the second-smallest crowd in Camden Yards history to remain atop the AL East at 5-1.
"I know it's early, but we just swept a pretty good team over there," said Huff. "So obviously we're feeling pretty good, and we just want to keep up the momentum."
Two former Mariners played key roles. George Sherrill pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save and third in the series. Adam Jones scored the tying run to set the stage for Huff's winning hit.
Dennis Sarfate (2-0) retired all four batters he faced before Sherrill entered.
Seattle's relievers yielded six runs over 7 2/3 innings in the series, including Huff's homer off Eric O'Flaherty (0-1).
Melvin Mora also homered for the Orioles, who haven't been this successful in the early going since going 7-1 in 1998.
If the city is excited over Baltimore's fast start, it wasn't reflected in the attendance. Only 10,774 came out on a chilly afternoon.
Yankees 6, Rays 1 - Mike Mussina tied Bob Gibson on the career wins list by pitching six sharp innings, Bobby Abreu hit a two-run homer, and New York salvaged a split of the four-game series against visiting Tampa Bay.
Abreu went 3 for 3 with a walk and Hideki Matsui drove in two runs for the Yankees, who lost Derek Jeter after two innings with a strained left quadriceps. Jeter beat out a potential double-play grounder in the first and scored on Abreu's two-run homer off Jason Hammel (0-1).
Mussina (1-1) earned win No. 251 to tie Gibson for 42d place all time. He allowed just two hits over six innings, one a solo homer by Jonny Gomes in the third.
Angels 6, Indians 4 - Torii Hunter hit a grand slam with one out in the ninth after Cleveland scored three runs in the top half off Los Angeles closer Francisco Rodriguez, capping a wild momentum swing in Anaheim, Calif.
Hunter had given the Angels a 2-1 lead in the eighth with a leadoff homer off Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt, but Rodriguez couldn't close it out in the ninth, departing after consecutive RBI doubles by Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Scot Shields (1-0) relieved, and Casey Blake's run-scoring single made it 4-2 entering the bottom of the inning.
Cleveland's closer, Joe Borowski, was even more ineffective. After getting Chone Figgins to fly out, Borowski (0-1) issued a walk to Gary Matthews Jr., a single to Vladimir Guerrero, and a walk to Garret Anderson before Hunter drilled an 0-and-1 pitch deep to left.
White Sox 7, Twins 4 - Joe Crede hit a tiebreaking grand slam to cap a five-run seventh, and Chicago prevailed in its home opener for its first five-game winning streak since August 2006.
Jermaine Dye tied the score at 3 in the seventh with a one-out RBI single off Pat Neshek, who had just relieved Matt Guerrier (0-1). A.J. Pierzynski struck out, but Carlos Quentin loaded the bases with a single and Crede drove a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen in left.
Phillies 5, Reds 3 - Pat Burrell hit two of the Phillies' four homers off Bronson Arroyo, and visiting Philadelphia showed signs of turning around its inconsistent offense.
Jimmy Rollins and Geoff Jenkins also went deep off Arroyo (0-1), who had never before given up more than three homers in a game.
Astros 5, Cardinals 3 - Miguel Tejada hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, and Houston put an end to St. Louis's five-game winning streak.
The Astros led, 3-0, before the Cardinals' three-hit ninth, and Ryan Ludwick's two-out, two-run double off Houston closer Jose Valverde (2-0) tied it at 3.
Cubs 10, Pirates 8 - Aramis Ramirez's sacrifice fly scored the go-ahead run during a two-run 12th, and Chicago rallied after squandering a seven-run lead in Pittsburgh's home opener.
Marlins 10, Nationals 7 - Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Robert Andino homered for Florida, while Washington dropped its fifth straight game before a paid attendance of just 20,487 for the second game at Nationals Park.
Padres 8, Giants 4 - Greg Maddux (1-0) earned his 348th career win, Adrian Gonzalez had a homer and four runs, and San Diego spoiled San Francisco's home opener and celebration of the Giants' arrival 50 years ago.
Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 3 - Mark Reynolds hit two of Arizona's four homers and the Diamondbacks rolled in their home opener to stretch their winning streak to four games.
Rockies 2, Braves 1 - Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth and Colorado snapped a five-game skid.