Now it's Jose Mesa or bust for the Orioles.
For the second straight time in this six-game homestand, the Orioles are faced with salvaging a victory or suffering a sweep. They beat Milwaukee 5-4 on Sunday in that unenviable position.
Tonight (7:35, WBAL-AM) they'll try to do it again, this time against Seattle. The Mariners will pitch lefthander Randy Johnson (2-2, 4.94 ERA) in pursuit of a Seattle sweep.
Mesa (1-3, 3.33) gets the call for the Orioles, who travel to Rochester for a Thursday exhibition game before launching a nine-game road trip to the West Coast on Friday.
Mesa has been one of the few consistent performers for the Orioles so far. He has gone six innings in three of his four starts, and went 5 1/3 in the other. His worst outing was last time out against Milwaukee, when he was touched for four runs and six hits in a 5-4 loss.
At this point, he's filling the role of stopper.
"He and Jeff Robinson and Jeff Ballard have all been throwing pretty decent for us," said pitching coach Al Jackson.
"Jose had an old pro's type of spring training for us. He started off very slow, but each time he pitched, he pitched better. By the last 10 days of spring training, he was ready for the season. That's what I call an old pro's situation."
VTC The Orioles are trying to break the losing habit against the Mariners. Seattle has won eight of the last nine games against the Orioles in Memorial Stadium. Overall, Seattle has won 12 of the last 15 games against Baltimore and 20 of the last 30.
TOUCHING BASES for sports
* CY WHO? The Reds dealt Cy Young winner Doug Drabek of the Pirates his fourth loss, which didn't come until June 28 last year.
* TURN FOR BETTER: Philadelphia's Wally Backman is 5-for-6 (.833) in his last two games.
* ALL HEALED: The Cubs' Hector Villanueva, off the disabled list all of three days, drove in a career-high four runs to support Mike Bielecki (4-1).
* 4-K: Reds reliever Rob Dibble retired the last four batters -- all on strikes.
* WHEN: Tonight, 7:35 (No TV;
WBAL-AM 1090, WTOP-AM 1500).
* WHERE: Memorial Stadium.
* SEASON SERIES: Seattle leads 2-0.
* STANDINGS: The Orioles (6-12) are last in the AL East, five games behind Boston. The Mariners (10-11) are in fifth place in the AL West, 3 1/2 games behind Oakland.
* PITCHERS: The Orioles' Jose Mesa (1-3, 3.33) vs. the Mariners' Randy Johnson (2-2, 4.94).
* EXTRA BASES: The Birds have lost four of five and two in a row . . . Mike Flanagan continues to be the Orioles' most effective pitcher, holding opponents to a .196 average. All 10 of his inherited runners have failed to score . . . In his past 12 games, Dwight Evans is 14-for-41 (.341). Last night Evans became one of only 17 players to hit a home run in 20 consecutive seasons . . . Against Johnson, Bill Ripken is 4-for-11 (.364) with three RBIs and Bob Melvin is 8-for-15 (.533) . . . The Orioles have scored 11 runs in four games with Mesa on the mound and have been shut out twice.