Millar homers as Orioles top Tigers in home opener

Orioles 6, Tigers 2

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Nine straight losing seasons have severely diminished the Baltimore Orioles' fan base. Because attendance last year was the lowest since 1988, the current team has assumed the responsibility of restoring confidence in the struggling franchise.

The process began in earnest Monday, when the Orioles presented the city with an opener well worth the wait.

Daniel Cabrera allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings, Kevin Millar homered in a four-run third, and Baltimore launched the home portion of its schedule by defeating the Detroit Tigers 6-2.

"This is a great baseball city. We've got to win some games and win these fans over," Millar said. "This is a new club and we're excited about the things we can do this year. But we've got do that in the win column, and develop a swagger as a group."

Melvin Mora had two hits, scored a run and drove in one for the Orioles, who have won three of four after an 0-3 start. Brian Roberts, who came in batting .136 (3-for-22), went 2-for-4 and scored twice.

Cabrera (1-1) gave up seven hits and struck out five. He walked none -- a significant statistic given that he led the AL with 104 walks in 2006. He's 3-0 in five career starts against Detroit.

"I'm excited because it's my first time throwing on Opening Day," said Cabrera, who termed the start the most important of his four-year career.

Baltimore hadn't opened on the road in a year without a work stoppage since 1978; the arrival of the Washington Nationals changed that tradition. So, seven days later than usual, a sellout crowd of 48,159 showed up at Camden Yards to watch the team don its white uniforms for the first time.

The Orioles made it worth the wait.

"It's great to be back. It was like playing two weeks on the road, including that last week of spring training," Millar said. "This is our house, we enjoy coming here to play. It's nice to come home and play well."

Detroit, meanwhile, was held under five runs for the fourth time in six games this season.

"We haven't really swung the bats really well," manager Jim Leyland said. "In the last few games, we haven't had much going. Hopefully, that'll change."

Baltimore fell behind 1-0 in the second inning, but took control in the third and never let the defending AL champions back in the game.

"I was kind of hoping we'd get on the board early and get the fans on our side," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "I know that you don't just play a week's worth of baseball and expect everyone to jump on the bandwagon when we're sitting here at 3-4. We have a lot of proving to do.

"We feel like we're better, but the fact of the matter is we've got to get it done on the field. Hopefully we can do that, and can bring the fans back."

The fun began soon after former Oriole great Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Cabrera retired the side in order in the first inning, and Baltimore went ahead for good in the third against Chad Durbin (0-1).

Millar got the Orioles started with his second homer in two days, a shot to right on Durbin's first pitch of the inning. Corey Patterson then got an infield hit, stole second and scored on a single by Roberts. Mora followed with a run-scoring double and came home on a bloop single by Miguel Tejada.

Baltimore chased Durbin during a two-run fifth. Roberts led off with an infield hit and scored on a two-out single by Aubrey Huff. Jay Gibbons then greeted Wilfredo Ledezma with an RBI double.

Making his first start in the majors since 2004, Durbin yielded six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He had a 2.08 ERA during spring training but became the first Tigers starter to lose this season.

"I thought I'd be a lot more emotional, a lot more nervous than I was," Durbin said. "Maybe afterward I'll think about it. This is one game. I threw a lot of strikes and this is something to take into next game -- maybe just throw some better ones."

Detroit's second-inning run came on successive doubles by Magglio Ordonez and Sean Casey. The Tigers knocked out Cabrera in the eighth, using a single by Craig Monroe and a two-out triple by Curtis Granderson to make it 6-2.

Chad Bradford relieved Cabrera and retired four of five batters around a walk.

Game notes
Detroit's Brandon Inge went 0-for-3 and is hitless in 20 at-bats this season. ... The crowd was the second-largest for an opener in the 16-year history of Camden Yards. ... Durbin is 0-3 with a 10.45 ERA in four appearances in Baltimore.