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BAL@LAA: Markakis powers Orioles' offense to a win

ANAHEIM -- Down a run, the Orioles made sure manager Buck Showalter wasn't the only one with some fight in him. Following their manager's ejection in the sixth inning over a strike call on Nick Markakis -- the culmination of an afternoon of frustration over balls and strikes -- the Orioles pushed back.

And it was Markakis, in the lineup despite being sick the past two games, who led the charge.

He delivered a two-out, two-run single in the eighth and then, after another exchange with home-plate umpire Angel Campos on a strike call in the 10th, the typically reserved right fielder banged out a two-out RBI single to give the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Angels.

"It puts a little fire in you," Markakis said of watching Showalter take a bullet for the team. "Buck's here to protect us. That's his job, it's what he does. And you have to go out there and keep battling. And when you get put in a situation like [the eighth and 10th innings], it makes you want to do a little more."

Markakis just being in the starting lineup was no small feat, a fact he downplayed but one that wasn't lost on Showalter or the rest of his teammates.

"Nick's been sick as a dog the last two days and wouldn't let us take his temperature, hardly," said Showalter, who said he was an eraser away from taking Markakis out of Saturday's starting lineup. "He's been scuffling. Lot of guys would have bailed, but that's Nick Markakis.

"I think [the issues with Campos] kind of got a little adrenaline going with the way he was feeling."

"[Campos] also had some problems with other some people in the game, but he's a professional," Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who picked up his seventh save this season, said of the way Markakis responded. "He is a big part of what we do."

Markakis broke out of his slump with the three RBIs, after having just one in the first nine games of the Orioles' now-completed 10-game road trip. His efforts also helped avoid saddling starter Wei-Yin Chen with a loss in his best effort this season. Chen, fresh off his first career Major League victory, tossed a season-high 6 1/3 innings and held the Angels to just one run in Sunday's sweep-avoiding win.

"He got us deep in the ballgame and was able to get those big outs," Johnson said of Chen, who held the Angels' Nos. 2-5 batters hitless, including two strikeouts of Albert Pujols. "He battled all day and I think he has gotten better every time out since we first saw him. So we're really excited for him."

"We are still learning about him," Showalter said of the 26-year-old Chen, who was signed to a three-year deal this winter out of Japan. "Quite frankly, he didn't get the benefit of a lot of borderline calls like [Angels starter Dan] Haren was, but he was able to work through that. He was the difference today."

Haren cruised through seven innings before the Orioles finally broke through with a pair of one-out singles from pinch-hitter Matt Wieters and Robert Andino to end his 115-pitch outing. Endy Chavez followed with a single to load the bases on reliever Scott Downs and, after J.J. Hardy's grounder back to the mound cut down Wieters at home, Markakis came through with his first hit of the afternoon.

In the 10th, Andino drew a leadoff walk from reliever LaTroy Hawkins and advanced to second on Chavez's sacrifice bunt. After Hardy's groundout moved Andino to third, Markakis dug in and hit a pitch into center field, past a diving Howie Kendrick at second.

"It was a good pitch, it was down," catcher Bobby Wilson said of the 1-2 curveball Hawkins threw. "Markakis is just a good hitter. All we're trying to do is execute the pitch and we did. Things just didn't work out for us today."

As late as the bottom of the eighth inning, it looked as if it would for the Angels. After sidearmer Darren O'Day got a double-play ball from the speedy Peter Bourjos to end the seventh, Orioles reliever Pedro Strop surrendered a one-out, game-tying homer to Kendrick in the eighth to again shift the momentum. But Strop came right back and retired Pujols, who was hitless in the three-game series, and didn't allow another baserunner over his two innings to send the game to extras.

"Chen was so strong throughout his whole outing, and he got tired, I guess, and walked a couple guys, and they started smelling blood in the water," said O'Day, who entered in the seventh with one out and runners on first and second. "[Bourjos] hit the ball into the ground and J.J. was right there and you have to give Andino credit for turning that because he is the fastest guy in the league in my mind."

Added Showalter: "The chances of doubling up Bourjos there are slim to none, and we got slim there."

Sunday's win ends the Orioles' first three-city, 10-game trip this season with a 6-4 record, including series wins in Toronto and Chicago. It marks the first over-.500 10-game trip for the organization since Sept. 13-23, 2004, when it took two of three at Toronto and Minnesota and split a four-game series at Boston.

"That's a win you are really proud of," Showalter said. "Today was a big game for us. We wanted to end on a good note that this trip should end on. Nobody in there was satisfied with a .500 road trip." Comments