Marte, LaPorta lift Indians over Orioles

Marte, LaPorta lift Indians over Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte were recently called up, and both are trying very hard to show the Indians they can play on a regular basis in the Major Leagues.

So far, so good.

LaPorta went 4-for-4 and made a spectacular catch in the ninth inning, and Marte hit his second game-winning home run in three nights, blasting a three-run shot off Chris Ray that helped the Indians to a 5-3 victory over the Orioles before 24,358 on a rainy Saturday night at Camden Yards.

Both players have been on a roll since coming up from Triple-A Columbus. LaPorta has hit safely in all 10 games since joining the Tribe (58-71) and is hitting .410 (16-for-39). He also made a running catch on a foul ball that Matt Wieters hit in the ninth where the left fielder's momentum forced him to tumble into the first few rows of the stands.

Marte went 2-for-4 and extended his career-long hitting streak to 10 games. He's hitting .417 (15-for-36) during that streak and has three homers and 12 RBIs. The first baseman hit the game-winning homer in Thursday's 5-4 victory, a two-run shot off Jim Johnson with two outs in the top of the ninth.

"You look at Andy Marte and Matt LaPorte, they've been fantastic the last week or so," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "I like the way both of them have made some adjustments. They've made some subtle adjustments that have made a big difference. You like players to step up at the right time, and both those kids have lately."

Both players were doing very well at Triple-A Columbus. LaPorta was hitting .299 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs when he was called up on July 28. Marte had a .327 average with 18 homers and 66 RBIs with Columbus, but both were among the top hitters in the International League.

"I think one of us sees the other doing good, we keep pushing each other," LaPorta said. "That's the way it was in Columbus. We feed off each other, basically."

The only difference is that Marte had played in the Major Leagues during parts of 2005-08. But the trades of Ryan Garko and Victor Martinez opened the door for Marte, who moved from third to first and is getting the regular playing time that relaxes anyone.

"The more I've been playing, I feel a lot more comfortable now," Marte said. "It's good when you know you're going to play the next day, no matter what happens. It makes me confident."

Home runs were the key in this game, as Jhonny Peralta's solo shot in the second inning tied the game at 1. The Orioles (53-77) took the lead in fifth on Cesar Izturis' RBI triple, just before the one-hour, 37-minute rain delay.

The storm was a short one, but lots of flooding in both dugouts forced the long delay.

"That's a first," Wedge said. "They always say in this game you're going to see something new, if not every day, every other day. It's hard to play if you can't get to the field."

Marte then came up with the game-changing hit in the sixth off Chris Ray (0-2). The Orioles held the 2-1 lead when Luis Valbuena and LaPorta got back-to-back singles with one out. Marte then lined a home run into left-field seats to give the Indians a 4-2 lead. Cleveland has now homered in eight consecutive games.

Chad Moeller's solo homer in the seventh cut the lead to 4-3 before Jamey Carroll's pinch-hit single added some insurance in the eighth. Chris Perez got his first save as an Indian with a scoreless ninth as Wedge said that Kerry Wood's right shoulder was a little sore and he wanted to give the right-hander an extra day off.

Rafael Perez (4-2) got the victory with 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief. He picked up for starter Jeremy Sowers after the rain delay. The Indians also helped their cause with some solid defense. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera started three 6-4-3 double plays, showing some flashy moves to stop Baltimore in the second, third and sixth innings.

Cabrera also went 2-for-5 to increase his average to .315. He was robbed of extra bases by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who made a leaping catch at the fence in the first. Jones did it again in the ninth, making an even better catch on a Shin-Soo Choo drive.

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