Orioles fall, dont get up in 7-1 defeat

Catchers inside-park HR tops poor night in Toronto

Matthews assumed it was foul

Halladay shackles Os

Mora again shaky at short

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

TORONTO M-y Life without Mike Bordick began in the shakiest of ways last night for the Orioles, as they stumbled and bumbled their way through a 7-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

A docile crowd of 17,015 at SkyDome saw the Orioles look uncharacteristically lackadaisical on a night when 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, and Orioles starter Jason Johnson had his first subpar outing in a month.

In a play that symbolize the entire night, Toronto catcher -- yes catcher -- Ken Huckaby hit an inside-the-park home run in the second inning.Orioles right-fielder Gary Matthews raced after Huckaby's ball as it looped down foul line and just missed catching the ball as he slid onto the rubber warning track, just short of the padded wall.

The ball rolled slowly away from Matthews, and he remained seated on the warning track, seemingly unaware that it was a fair ball. Huckaby was at third base by the time Matthews finally retrieved the ball and he scored standing up.

"I just assumed it was foul," Matthews said. "I never even checked."

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.

It went down as a two-run homer, as Chris Woodward scored from first base, and it gave Toronto 2-0 lead.

"It's a bonehead play, Matthews said. One of those plays you have in your career and it ends up on the blooper tape... But at the end of the night you can't help but laugh at it."

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.

"We didn't show up tonight, plain and simple," said manager Mike Hargrove, who met with some players individually after the game. "None of us did. For whatever reason, we were flatter than a pancake."

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 inning, charging a grounder by Dave Berg but dropping the ball on a play that was scored a base hit.

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

"Melvin's a good shortstop," Hargrove said before the game. Last year when Bordy went down, [Mora] was lights out for us. I'm certainly not afraid to play him there."

Neither of Moras misplays led to runs, and at least he made an effort.

Besides seeing Matthews gaffe, the Orioles also watched as Geronimo Gil failed to run out a ball down the first base line in the third inning. It spun directly off of first base for a fair ball.

Delgado, Torontos first baseman, had time to grab the ball and step on the base himself.

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 June 25, 2001.

Batista's home run trimmed Torontos 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 his second in two games. Wells, who added a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, tied his career high with four RBIs.

Johnson (3-7) 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 runs or less.

Halladay (11-4) allowed one run on five hits in eight innings.

"I know Bordy is 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."

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