Hernandez's three-run homer leads Orioles past Indians

" About time: The homer was Hernandez's first since Sept. 28, 2006.

" Unsung hero: Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera allowed three hits and one run while striking out six in a seven-inning stint.

" Early exit: Indians lefty Jeremy Sowers lasted just two innings, his shortest outing in 20 career starts.

" Figure this: Cleveland has lost two straight after winning 10 of 11.

-- ESPN.com news services

Orioles 8, Indians 2

BALTIMORE (AP) -- In an effort to get some production from his struggling offense, Baltimore Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo has taken to shuffling the batting order. One move that appears to have paid off: putting Ramon Hernandez in the cleanup spot.

Hernandez homered and drove in four runs to back a fine pitching performance by Daniel Cabrera, and the Orioles breezed past the Cleveland Indians 8-2 Saturday night.

Hernandez hit a three-run homer in the first inning and added a sacrifice fly in a three-run second. Although he was 0-for-6 in his previous two games batting fourth, Hernandez came through in a big way in helping the Orioles win their second straight.

"As long as he's hitting the ball like that," Perlozzo said, "he can stay" at cleanup.

Hernandez missed the first 3 1/2 weeks of the season with a strained muscle in his rib cage, but since his return he's been Baltimore's most productive hitter, driving in 10 runs in only eight games.

"I'm just trying to see the ball, make good contact on it and hit it on a good spot," said Hernandez, who slammed two balls to the warning track that traveled farther than his home run, which bounced off the left-field foul pole.

"He hit the ball extremely well," Perlozzo said. "Those outs, in the summertime they're probably out, too."

Batting cleanup is fine, but Hernandez isn't exactly obsessed with filling the position in the lineup usually manned by Miguel Tejada.

"I don't care where I'm hitting," he said. "I don't think about hitting fourth. I'll swing the same way if I'm hitting ninth. As long as I'm in the lineup, I'm happy."

Jay Payton had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the Orioles, who had gone 16 games without scoring more than seven runs.

Kevin Millar chipped in with a seventh-inning single, his 1,000th career hit.

Cabrera (2-3) gave up one run and three hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking four. The right-hander was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts since April 9.

Victor Martinez went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for the Indians, who have lost two in a row after winning 10 of 11.

"We weren't able to get anything going offensively against Cabrera," manager Eric Wedge said. "He was real good."

Indians starter Jeremy Sowers (0-2) lasted only two innings, his shortest outing in 20 career starts. He allowed six runs, five hits and three walks.

"It was a really poor performance. I wasn't pitching very confidently and it was a very short night," Sowers said.

Baltimore is 3-9 in its last 12 games. Two of those wins came in games started by Sowers, who received a no-decision in the Orioles' 7-4 victory on April 27.

"Jeremy hasn't gotten that momentum going," Wedge said. "You like to see starters feed off one start to the next and get it going again, and we just haven't seen that just yet from Jeremy."

Hernandez put Baltimore up 3-0 with his first homer of the season, ending a run of 57 innings in which the Orioles failed to score at least three runs.

Baltimore added three more in the second to make it 6-0. Millar and Corey Patterson walked before Brian Roberts hit into a force play at second. After Roberts stole second without a throw, Payton delivered a two-run single. Tejada followed with a single and Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to deep center.

"I was predictable tonight," Sowers said. "I had a chance to go back out there in the second inning and try to just put the first inning behind, and I put the first two guys on base. Those guys usually score."

In the Cleveland fourth, a single, a walk and two wild pitches put runners on second and third with no outs. Cabrera then struck out Ryan Garko, retired Jhonny Peralta on a foul pop and struck out Casey Blake.

Baltimore went up 7-0 against Jason Davis in the bottom half. Roberts doubled, advanced on a single by Payton and scored on a fly ball by Tejada.

Singles by Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis, along with a throwing error by Peralta at short, made it 8-0 in the fifth.

Martinez hit a solo homer in the sixth and singled in a run off Jamie Walker in the eighth. He has 17 RBIs in his last 16 games.

Game notes
Roberts has 11 steals in 12 tries. ... All three of Martinez's homers have come on the road. ... Cleveland fell to 15-4 against right-handed starters. ... Baltimore had a season-high tying 13 hits.