Chen turns in historic start to down A's

Chen turns in historic start to down A's

Chen turns in historic start to down A's
BALTIMORE -- Matt Wieters hit a three-run homer after being stuck in a deep slump and sitting for two days due to sore biceps. Omar Quintanilla banged out three hits and had a chance to complete the cycle in his final at-bat.

But as much as those two helped the Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen was the big story for Baltimore on Sunday. Chen set a new record for Taiwanese-born pitchers with 12 strikeouts -- despite pitching only 5 2/3 innings -- as the Orioles rolled to a 6-1 victory over the A's in the finale of a three-game series before 19,698 at Camden Yards.

Chen gave up one run on three hits and surpassed Chien-Ming Wang's Taiwanese record of 10 strikeouts set on June 17, 2007, with the Yankees.

"First of all, I think my fastball located really well today," Chen said through an interpreter. "I think it was down. My breaking ball and offspeed pitch was good. Everything was working today."

Chen's 12 strikeouts were the most by a Baltimore pitcher since Erik Bedard tied the franchise record with 15 against the Rangers on July 7, 2007. The outing also set a new career best for Chen -- the rookie had struck out nine earlier this season.

Chen (9-6) baffled the A's (55-46) from the start. He struck out the side in the first, added two more in the second and also struck out the side in the fourth.

Manager Buck Showalter and Wieters said the left-hander's control and command of his fastball were strong, especially on a day when the Oakland batters were patient and made him throw 108 pitches.

"Not only can he command it, but he knows where in the zone he needs to go to be able to get strikeouts and be able to get ground balls," Wieters said. "He can move in and out and up and down. It's not just command on either side of the plate, but height-wise, too."

Chen held the A's to just one run on six hits in seven innings when beating them 10-1 on April 28. He struck out four on that day, but fared even better this time around.

"I think he had a little giddyup on his fastball," said Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks. "Late action. It was causing guys, including myself, just to just miss it. We had a lot of foul balls, fly balls, and that little bit of late action helped him get that."

The Orioles (53-49) again got much of their offense from homers. They took charge with four runs in the third, and that proved to be more than enough for Chen on this day.

Quintanilla reached on a bunt single to start the third and went to third when first baseman Chris Carter couldn't handle a pickoff throw from starter Travis Blackley (3-3). J.J. Hardy walked to put runners at first and third before Adam Jones gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead with an RBI double.

Wieters, stuck in a 1-for-31 slump, then belted a three-run homer to left for a 4-0 lead. He'd been resting his sore right biceps during the first two days of this series, as the Orioles were trying to be cautious, but the All-Star catcher crushed an 0-1 fastball from Blackley to break the game open.

Hardy then scored on another Carter error in the fifth for a 5-0 advantage. Yoenis Cespedes lined an RBI single off Chen in the sixth, but Quintanilla answered with a solo homer in the bottom half to make it 6-1.

Quintanilla also doubled in the fourth, which left him with a chance to finish the cycle when coming to bat against Jim Miller in the bottom of the eighth. But Miller struck out the second baseman. Still, Quintanilla has hits in six of his seven Baltimore starts, and the three hits in this game tied a career high. He finished 3-for-4 with one RBI.

"It's been real exciting," Quintanilla said. "I'm real blessed with the opportunity that I have here. I'm just trying to go out there and have fun, do anything I can to help the team win."

But Chen did the most on this day. The Orioles need him to step up with the problems the starting staff has battled in recent days, and he's come through.

The four walks Chen allowed hurt him, as did an untimely error from Quintanilla in the sixth that helped Oakland score its only run. That error, plus a walk and two singles, led Showalter to pull Chen with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth with a 5-1 lead. Darren O'Day got out of that inning, and that pretty much sealed Chen's win.

"He's been a pleasure to be around, and I like to see good things happen to people who go about their business the way he does," Showalter said.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.