Chen gives Orioles another pitching gem

Chen gives Orioles another pitching gem

Chen gives Orioles another pitching gem
ATLANTA -- Wei-Yin Chen didn't flirt with a no-hitter the way teammate Jason Hammel did on Saturday night, but on Sunday he was sensational in his own right. Or, as center fielder Adam Jones put it, he was "Chen-sational."

Chen threw seven scoreless innings against the Braves to help the Orioles to a 2-0 win at Turner Field. His performance came on the heels of Hammel's one-hit shutout and helped fuel Baltimore to a series victory.

Before this weekend the Orioles had not thrown back-to-back shutouts since Aug. 28-29, 2010, against the Angels. In total, the Orioles' pitching staff held the Braves scoreless in the final 20 innings of the three-game series.

Jones said it was fun to watch his pitchers from his vantage point in center.

"The important part of it is, they all have started with strike one," Jones said. "They put the hitters in 0-1 counts, and they have been able to do what they want, because they've been ahead."

Chen pitched what might have been the best game of his career. The rookie left-hander allowed six hits, but thanks to three double plays, he faced just four batters over the minimum. He struck out two and walked one, efficiently working through seven innings and throwing 101 pitches.

Chen said that he felt confident after warming up in the bullpen.

"In the bullpen I felt really great," Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. "Today I knew I would have a really good performance."

And he did. The Braves had a runner in scoring position in only one inning, and Chen kept them off balance with an assortment of four pitches, including a new mid-60s breaking ball.

"He came over here basically without a changeup and a lot slower to the plate," manager Buck Showalter said. "[Pitching coach Rick Adair has] done a great job getting him some more weapons to defend himself at this level. He's a quick learner. He's grasping very quick."

As good as Chen was, however, Braves right-hander Randall Delgado matched him almost pitch for pitch. In eight innings, Delgado gave up three hits, including a pair of leadoff doubles, both of which resulted in runs without benefit of another hit.

Jones started the second inning with a ground-rule double that hopped over the right-field fence. He advanced to third on Wilson Betemit's fly ball to right and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep right-center by Mark Reynolds.

After Jones' double, Delgado retired 12 straight batters, including Betemit and Reynolds. That streak was broken by Steve Pearce, who sent a line drive over the head of left fielder Matt Diaz for a double to lead off the sixth. Pearce moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Chen and scored when Delgado was called for a balk by home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn.

Chen hates hitting but was happy to get the bunt down. Even if he is unsure how it happened.

"I have no idea how I did that," he said.

Jones went 2-for-3, giving him back-to-back multi-hit games. He was the only Orioles player to reach base more than once against Delgado.

"He pitched a good game. We were just able to get that run early," Jones said.

The Orioles also benefited from a solid game defensively. They turned a double play in each of the first three innings, including one on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Delgado with runners on first and second and no outs in the third.

After Delgado bunted the ball to the third-base side of the mound, Chen fielded it and threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was covering third base, for one out. Hardy then threw across the diamond to get Delgado at first.

Hardy said that the play was the product of all the work the Orioles did practicing bunt defense during Spring Training.

"That's where it comes in handy," Hardy said. "We don't run that play very often. It takes a pretty close game to run that play."

With everything clicking for the Orioles, they were able to come back and win the series after falling in Friday's opener. It was the fourth Interleague series they have won this year, but Jones said the Orioles are focused on winning games no matter who the opponent.

"We're just trying to win each game," he said. "Obviously, that's not possible, but that's our mind-set. We won the series, which is huge."

Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.