A's edge past Orioles

A's edge past Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Bobby Crosby was batting .111 so far on the A's current road trip, and Mark Ellis was batting .222.

So after Crosby ripped a two-run homer in the third inning Tuesday and Ellis followed that with a homer of his own to tie the game, the same thought crossed both men's mind.

"We were pretty sure the game would end up getting rained out," Ellis said. "We talked about that during the delay."

But the rain, which came shortly after Ellis' homer and delayed the game for nearly 90 minutes, actually seemed to help the A's, who went on to a 5-4 victory over the Orioles in the second contest of a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza gave up three runs on five hits in his two innings before the break, but he came back far stronger after it and gave up only two more hits over 3 1/3 more innings on the way to picking up the win.

"He came back and pitched pretty well," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, who decided against sending his starter, Russ Ortiz, back out after the delay. "He was actually out for more than an hour and a half [the A's were still batting when play resumed]. Give him credit. He came back and pitched pretty good."

A's manager Ken Macha was particularly grateful. In the first five games of the road trip before Tuesday, only one starter -- Joe Blanton -- had lasted more than five innings. Had Loaiza not taken the ball back, Macha would have needed seven innings from his bullpen.

"You've gotta give 'E-Lo' a lot of credit," Macha said. "He got us into the sixth, and that was a tremendous lift for us."

Loaiza said his fastball was being clocked at about 89-90 mph before the delay, and 92-93 after it. Asked how such an increase could occur, he said, "I have no idea." Asked what he did during the delay, he said, "I sat on my chair [in the clubhouse] and relaxed, trying to cool down."

A night after losing, in part, because one of their pitchers made a throwing error that led to two unearned runs, the A's were the beneficiaries in a similar situation Tuesday and turned it into a win.

With two runners on and one out in the fourth inning, Orioles reliever Eddy Rodriguez fielded a comebacker off the bat of Jason Kendall and fired it into center field, allowing the tie-breaking run to score. Mark Kotsay, who survived a scare when he was hit in the helmet with an Ortiz pitch in the third, then bounced into a fielder's choice that brought another run home, and that run proved to be the difference.

Baltimore won the opener of the series, 5-3, with help from A's rookie Jason Windsor, who overthrew first base with two out in the third, leading to two unearned runs.

With Tuesday's victory, in which Ellis became the all-time home run leader among Major Leaguers born in South Dakota, Oakland maintained its slim lead in the American League West.

"I was a little disappointed they didn't stop the game and give me a plaque or something," Ellis cracked.

Career homer No. 33 for Ellis moved him past Dave Collins, who has a Little League field named after him in their shared hometown of Rapid City, S.D. Ellis said he already had a couple of congratulatory phone messages waiting on his cell phone by the end of the game.

"They better name a street after him or something," said Crosby, who couldn't resist poking some fun at his double-play partner. "They've had, what, two baseball players besides him from South Dakota? ... I didn't know [Ellis had set the mark tonight] or I'd have been all over him. Now, I have ammo for tomorrow."

Loaiza looked like he wouldn't stick around very long while falling behind early. He gave up three consecutive hits in the first inning, the third an RBI single by Jeff Conine, and after a leadoff single by Corey Patterson in the second, Kevin Millar ripped a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers.

The A's tied it up in the third, which Jay Payton opened with a single that was followed by the homers from Crosby and Ellis. Then came the rain, and after it came Loaiza's only perfect frame. The A's pulled ahead with their Rodriguez-aided rally in the fourth, after which Loaiza wiggled out of a couple of jams in the fourth and fifth.

"We will start having an hour between innings [when Loaiza pitches]," said Macha.

Responded a smiling Loaiza, "Good. That will give them time to stop his nose from bleeding."

Loaiza was lifted after allowing a Patterson single and striking out Millar in the sixth, and Baltimore's No. 9 hitter, Nick Markakis, greeted lefty Brad Halsey with an RBI double to left-center.

Halsey got the next two hitters he faced, Kiko Calero was perfect in the seventh, fellow righty Justin Duchscherer was perfect in the eighth, and closer Huston Street shook off a leadoff walk and a near-wild throw of his own on the ensuing sacrifice bunt to pick up his 20th save of the season.

"Loaiza did a good job coming back and being able to hold on," said O's third baseman Melvin Mora. "That was the key. He was able to hold it right there, and they came back to win the game."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.