Orioles fall, don't get up in 7-1 defeat

Catcher's inside-park HR tops poor night in Toronto

Matthews `assumed it was foul'

Halladay shackles O's

Mora again shaky at short

O's fall, don't get up in Jays' rout

July 18, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - There's no sitting in baseball, at least not when the ball is in play, and Orioles right fielder Gary Matthews knew he was in trouble last night when he looked up and saw Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby rounding the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

After getting a stern lecture in manager Mike Hargrove's office after the Orioles' 7-1 loss at SkyDome, Matthews called it "a bonehead play," the kind that will probably earn him a lifetime sentence on the blooper reel.

Matthews had slid into foul territory, trying to catch Huckaby's second-inning looping liner. The ball landed fair and rolled slowly away from Matthews, but he just sat there obliviously, until it was too late.

Huckaby was on third base by the time Matthews retrieved the ball, and both Huckaby and Chris Woodward scored standing up.

For the Orioles, it was that kind of game, and Matthews wasn't the only player called into Hargrove's office after it was over. Hargrove also spoke with catcher Geronimo Gil, who failed to run out a ball down the first base line in the third inning.

"We didn't show up tonight, plain and simple," Hargrove said. "None of us did. For whatever reason, we were flatter than a pancake."

Life without veteran shortstop Mike Bordick began in the shakiest of ways, as the Orioles stumbled and bumbled their way out of a three-game winning streak on a night they could have reached .500 for the first time since May 11.

The defense was sloppy, the offense failed to do much of anything against All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay (11-4), and Orioles starter Jason Johnson (3-7) had his first subpar outing in a month.

The Orioles hadn't allowed an inside-the-park home run since Aug. 25, 1999, when Johnny Damon hit one against them for the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays have had 26 inside-the-park home runs in their history, and this was the first one by a catcher.

"I just assumed it was foul; I never even checked," Matthews said. "At the time it's not funny, it puts us in the hole by two runs, but at the end of the night you can't help but laugh at it."

Still, the mood was serious in the clubhouse. One day after learning that Bordick would miss at least three weeks with a hairline fracture in his right kneecap, the Orioles looked much like the team that played .350 baseball with Bordick on the disabled list last season.

Melvin Mora, Bordick's replacement at shortstop, had another rough game defensively. After committing one error Tuesday at shortstop, Mora made another last night in the first inning, mishandling a grounder by Eric Hinske.

Mora made a nice diving catch to spear a line drive by Carlos Delgado in the third inning, but he mishandled another play in the sixth, charging a grounder by Dave Berg but dropping the ball on a play that was scored a base hit.

Of Mora's eight errors this season, five have come at shortstop, where he has started just 13 games.

"I know Bordy's a huge part of our defense," Johnson said. "You could tell tonight the way it went. He pretty much holds the team together as far as defense goes. We're going to miss him. Hopefully he can get back soon."

The Orioles managed their only run off Halladay when Tony Batista hit his 20th home run in the fourth inning. Batista has three home runs against the Blue Jays since getting placed on waivers by Toronto and claimed by the Orioles on June 25, 2001.

Batista's home run trimmed Toronto's lead to 2-1, and the score remained that way until the fifth. That's when Vernon Wells hit a two-out, three-run homer that proved to be the backbreaker for the Orioles.

With a 2-2 count, Wells hit a hanging curveball from Johnson that cleared the left-field wall for his 12th homer of the season and the center fielder's second in two games.

"It was a terrible pitch," Johnson said. "A guy in Little League could have hit that out."

Wells, who added a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, tied his career high with four RBIs.

Johnson allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. His previous four outings had all been quality starts - six innings or more, three earned runs or less.

"It was a rough night for the whole team," Johnson said. "It's hard to win a game when we're off-line like that, myself included."

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Toronto Blue Jays

Site:SkyDome, Toronto

Time:7:05

TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Travis Driskill (6-2, 4.36) vs. Blue Jays' Chris Carpenter (2-1, 5.24)

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