Hentgen joins other O's starters in filling in blanks as Mets fall

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Three shutout innings give starters 1 run in 12 innings

Rivera sees Dr. Andrews

Baseball

March 06, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Following the lead of the other Orioles starters, Pat Hentgen blanked the New York Mets on two hits over three innings yesterday in a 4-3 victory.

Hentgen allowed a leadoff double to Jorge Toca in the second inning and a two-out single to Darryl Hamilton in the third. He didn't issue a walk or record a strikeout.

"For the most part, I pitched pretty good as far as getting ahead in the counts," he said. "Overall, no walks and only one three-ball count. I'm happy about it."

This was Hentgen's first appearance with the Orioles in a Grapefruit League game, and it continued an impressive trend by the club's starters. They've allowed only one run and five hits in 12 spring innings.

Sidney Ponson threw three perfect innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter on Friday. Jose Mercedes served up a bases-empty homer among his two hits against the Minnesota Twins in Saturday's home opener, and Jason Johnson limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to one hit on Sunday.

"It's great. I think you have to pitch as a unit," said Hentgen, who signed a two-year deal with an option after winning 15 games with the Cardinals last season. "I talked to Sidney and Jason after they got done pitching, and it was a great feeling. I think the 10 to 12 of us have to work together as a unit. Good competitiveness among the starters is real healthy."

Hentgen sensed before taking the mound that he might struggle. He wasn't feeling comfortable after warming up, and mentioned it to trainer Richie Bancells.

"I was telling the trainer, Richie, when I left the bullpen that I didn't feel I was as loose as I'd like to be," he said, "but I think it had to do with the wind and the cold. It was a situation where, once I got out there, I felt real good. Fernando [Lunar] did a nice job behind the plate, and we made some nice plays defensively."

Crash landing

Mets right fielder Timo Perez had to leave the game in the second inning after crashing head-first into the padded gate in right field to make a circus catch.

A gusting wind blew Melvin Mora's fly ball into foul territory, where Perez ran into a bench in the Orioles' bullpen, flipped forward and hit the gate. Somehow, the ball stayed in his glove as Mike Kinkade tagged at first and hustled into third.

Perez walked off the field under his own power while receiving a standing ovation from an otherwise docile crowd at Thomas J. White Stadium. He needed stitches to close a gash on his shin.

Quick hits

The number: 0 - Errors committed by the Orioles, compared with five by the Mets. Second baseman David Howard made two on the same play in the third inning. An errant throw by right fielder Brian Cole allowed Ed Rogers to score the tie-breaking run in the seventh.

Injury update: Luis Rivera had his right shoulder examined yesterday by Dr. James Andrews, who was expected to perform arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum. ... Cal Ripken remains about two weeks away from swinging a bat because of a fractured rib. Mark Nussbeck could need another two weeks before returning to the mound because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

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