Injury sours sweet sweep of Seattle, 6-1

Losing Bordick for 3 weeks limits joy as O's Erickson gets out of 13-start rut

Ill friend spurs 3 Cordova RBIs

1- 8 last year, Orioles take '02 Mariners series, 5-4

July 17, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The Orioles celebrated one of their biggest victories of the season in rather subdued fashion yesterday, as news began spreading through the clubhouse that veteran shortstop Mike Bordick will miss at least three weeks with a knee injury.

Scott Erickson broke his 13-start winless streak in vintage form, tossing a complete-game six-hitter as the Orioles toppled the Seattle Mariners and red-hot pitcher Joel Pineiro, 6-1, before 39,783 at Camden Yards.

With the win, the Orioles claimed the season series against the Mariners, 5-4, which is a significant step considering they lost eight of nine games against this American League West powerhouse last season.

What's more, the Orioles salvaged a .500 homestand against Oakland and Seattle, making their three straight losses after the All-Star break seem like a distant memory as they packed for a brief two-game trip to Toronto.

But after Bordick emerged from the trainer's room, teammates began congregating around his locker with looks of chagrin. Bordick suffered a hairline fracture in his right kneecap on Monday night and will spend the next three weeks with his right leg immobilized before the team's medical staff can determine when he'll return.

As thrilled as the Orioles were beating Seattle again, those thoughts were tempered with memories of what happened when Bordick was lost to a shoulder injury last season. With Bordick, the Orioles were 27-31. Without him, they were 36-67.

This team stands 45-46, with its fingers crossed.

"It's still a big win; nobody died," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, who found out the severity of Bordick's injury in the eighth inning. "He just got injured, and it's not a serious injury. It doesn't require surgery, and it doesn't require a 60-day [disabled list stint]. It's hopefully a three-week deal and Bordy will be back. I don't want to overreact to this thing.

"Losing Mike Bordick is a big loss for us, without a doubt, but we do still have good players, and we'll persevere."

Persevere is what the Orioles have done all season, handling long stretches with Jason Johnson, David Segui and Jeff Conine on the disabled list.

Hargrove and Orioles left fielder Marty Cordova had an even heavier issue on their minds yesterday, having learned that longtime Cleveland Indians trainer Jim Warfield was in critical condition with a brain hemorrhage. He died several hours after yesterday's game. Hargrove spent 21 seasons with the Indians as a player, coach and manager, and Cordova played for Cleveland last year.

Cordova, who went 2-for-3 with a home run, double and three RBIs, dedicated his performance to Warfield.

"I wanted to have a good game for him," Cordova said. "He's a really good guy, one of the nicest I've been around."

So on a day that offered plenty of perspective, the Orioles rewarded Erickson for his own perseverance. He hadn't won since April 28, going 0-7 with a 4.67 ERA while the offense managed just 39 runs in his next 13 starts.

This time, the Mariners tied the game 1-1 in the second inning on Mike Cameron's 16th home run but managed little else the rest of the afternoon. Erickson walked one and struck out seven in his third complete game of the season.

Afterward, Erickson dismissed the significance of ending the longest stint of his career without a victory.

"The streak was a media thing to talk about it," he said. "I was pitching good, and stuff didn't work out for me."

But the Orioles did several things well - big and small - yesterday as they scored six runs in six innings against Pineiro, who came in leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA. Pineiro was 6-0 with a 1.14 ERA in his previous six starts.

Orioles leadoff man Howie Clark, playing his first big-league game after 10 minor-league seasons, got the team started with a first-inning double off the center-field wall. After a sacrifice bunt by Chris Singleton, Clark scored on a bouncer to shortstop by Gary Matthews, breaking Pineiro's streak of 20 consecutive innings without allowing a run.

With the score still tied 1-1 in the fourth, Singleton led off with a double, Matthews moved him to third with a grounder to second, and Tony Batista followed with a sacrifice fly. Jay Gibbons walked, and then Cordova culminated a 10-pitch at-bat against Pineiro with a 390-foot home run into the left-field seats.

Cordova fouled off four two-strike pitches in the at-bat.

Is this team better equipped for life without Bordick?

"I think we've proven [that] already," Bordick said. "We've missed two of our best players, Conine and Segui, and to be able to play the way we've been playing shows a lot about this team. I think we're going to roll right through this and be fine, and hopefully I can come back at the end, and we can continue to have some success."

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Toronto Blue Jays

Site:SkyDome, Toronto

Time:7:05

TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jason Johnson (3-6, 3.56) vs. Blue Jays' Roy Halladay (10-4, 2.87)

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