Ponson blister hurts O's hopes as Phils pound 'pen for 8-5 win

`Extra' outs irk Hargrove

starter's 4-0 lead erased

July 01, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Run support wouldn't be a problem yesterday for Sidney Ponson. The Orioles were generous in their giving, which contrasted his early greediness.

This finally seemed to be the right time for Ponson, winless in more than a month, to take the ball. Too bad he held it with a sore hand.

While the Orioles were scoring twice in the second and third innings, Ponson was developing a blister on his right middle finger. Unable to warm up for the third, Ponson left another game without getting a decision in the Orioles' 8-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Camden Yards.

Three errors in the sixth inning led to two unearned runs with reliever Rick Bauer (3-4) on the mound. The Phillies scored another run in the inning while moving ahead 6-4 in the Orioles' last home game before the All-Star break.

Anyone arriving late among a crowd of 43,429 missed Ponson's two scoreless innings, his three strikeouts, his six outs that stayed in the infield. They missed Ponson, who lasted only 25 pitches.

"We thought it was such that he could keep going," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We drained it, but Sidney just couldn't go. It shouldn't affect his next start, but we'll see.

"You don't know whether he would have been able to sustain it, but he was throwing the ball very well. He probably had as good of command of his fastball as we've seen in a long while."

The blister, which rose on the padding of his finger, developed as Ponson faced the last two batters. "I hit a hot spot and when I looked down it was filled with pus," he said. "I popped it after the second inning and tried to go out there but it didn't work out. It was hurting and I didn't want to risk my next start."

The Orioles led 4-0 after three innings, which would have been quite a bounty for Ponson. They averaged only 2.7 runs in his nine previous no-decisions.

Another pattern was broken. The Orioles had been 8-1, tops in the majors, when Ponson didn't get a decision.

Ponson (3-4) hasn't won since May 23 in Oakland. He had 10 quality starts in his last 13 appearances before yesterday, and a 2.56 ERA in five June starts.

"I try everything for my finger but the blisters keep popping up," he said. "The last time I had a blister was a month and a half ago. I didn't come out of the game, but I did have one."

Reliever Chris Brock allowed a two-run double to Scott Rolen and run-scoring single to Travis Lee in the fourth. Rolen added an RBI single in the Phillies' three-run sixth, when nine batters came to the plate against B.J. Ryan, Bauer and Yorkis Perez.

It wasn't a banner day for Orioles relievers. They allowed eight runs and 11 hits over the last seven innings. In all, Hargrove went to his bullpen six times, with rest coming from today's open date.

The Orioles got a two-run homer from Tony Batista - their lone All-Star representative - in the third inning after Gary Matthews led off with a double. Catcher Brook Fordyce had doubled in a run in the second, giving him four RBIs this season, and Mike Bordick lifted a sacrifice fly.

Still leading by a run in the fifth, the Orioles couldn't score after loading the bases with one out. Batista was thrown out at the plate on a bouncer to the left side with none out, and after Ryan McGuire walked to load the bases, Phillies starter Robert Person (3-4) retired the next two batters on a popup and strikeout.

"You can't give major-league teams extra outs, which we did in the sixth inning," Hargrove said, "and when you have an opportunity to score as golden as the one we had, you have to score."

After watching the Phillies create their own bloopers reel on Saturday, the Orioles took their comedic turn in the sixth inning. Fordyce bounced a throw into center field after Bobby Abreu walked. Brian Roberts couldn't handle a sharp one-hopper from Marlon Anderson with two outs and the bases loaded. The next batter, Ricky Ledee, reached when Perez failed to glove his soft bouncer.

"We beat ourselves, plain and simple," Hargrove said. "We didn't play well from the fifth inning on, and you can't play that way and expect to win. I don't think there's any worse way to get beat than for it to happen the way it did."

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