The Orioles were well aware of the long-term ramifications, like the elbow injury to No. 3 starter Alfredo Simon and the taxing of their bullpen, but they opted to overlook them to celebrate an impressive and unlikely win considering the circumstances Tuesday night.
The hero of the moment was Adam Jones, whose mammoth two-run homer off Texas Rangers reliever Eddie Guardado broke a 10th-inning tie and was the big hit in the 7-5 victory before an announced 14,041 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Now 6-2, the Orioles will have an opportunity Wednesday to record a three-game series sweep.
But Jones' heroics would not have been possible without the effort of the Orioles' bullpen, which turned in 7 2/3 scoreless innings before closer George Sherrill made things interesting in the 10th. Sherrill allowed two runs and had two men on when he got Nelson Cruz to fly out to the warning track in dead center. The batter before, Hank Blalock, had hit one to the right-field warning track for the second out of the inning.
Sherrill said: "I try and think it's 1-0 or something like that, but four-run leads just aren't my friend."
Simon left the game after 1 1/3 innings with right elbow discomfort and will return to Baltimore on Thursday to have it examined by team doctors. Though it would be premature to speculate on his long-term status, his scheduled start on Monday at Fenway Park appears very much in jeopardy.
Manager Dave Trembley said: "I saw him throwing in the first inning and I saw his velocity was down. It really caught my attention right off the get-go. ... I went out there and said, 'Is it your elbow?' and he said, 'Yeah.'
"He just wasn't throwing like I've seen. Usually, the guy is throwing. 94 or 95, and he was throwing 88 or 89. Obviously, there's a problem there and we have to get it checked out."
The Orioles will go to a 13-man pitching staff when Matt Albers is called up Wednesday to replace injured third baseman Melvin Mora. Simon could join Mora on the disabled list as well, allowing the Orioles to add another pitcher before Wednesday's series finale. They could choose to call up a reliever, such as Radhames Liz, and then send that pitcher down in favor of a starter, possibly Triple-A Norfolk's Brad Bergesen, on Monday.
With few options Tuesday, Trembley needed Dennis Sarfate to pitch 3 1/3 innings, which he did without allowing a run. Chris Ray followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and then Jamie Walker turned in a scoreless inning. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth.
Sarfate said: "That's our job. We have to pick up each other. [Monday] night, it was Danys [Baez] and tonight it was me. I knew I was going to be first up. It's one of those things. I hate to see Simon go down, but that's our job."
Before their big 10th, the Orioles' offense, which totaled 10 runs and 16 hits in the series opener, had just one hit after Luke Scott's solo homer that tied the game at 3 in the fourth inning.
However, Brian Roberts got things started in the 10th with a one-out single, his third hit of the day. Jones then hammered Guardado's 0-1 fastball into the visitors' bullpen, 416 feet away. The Orioles scored twice more in the inning on Scott's two-run double to left-center.
Jones said: "Our offense can't be shut down. ... A few innings here and there, but our lineup is just too strong from top to bottom. ... We had the one opportunity and we took advantage of it."
Simon was again prone to the long ball in his abbreviated start Tuesday, giving up homers to three of the seven batters he faced - Michael Young (who might have been the hero on Monday if not for a terrific ninth-inning catch by right fielder Nick Markakis), Cruz and Chris Davis.
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