Erickson lets W. Sox take lead

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Failing to hold three leads, starter makes O's follow

painful cheers for Fordyce

July 22, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

No matter how well Scott Erickson was pitching for the Orioles before yesterday's game at Camden Yards, a difficult outing should have been predicted. Just consider who sat in the opposite dugout.

Trying to hoist the Orioles to .500, Erickson left after five innings with the Chicago White Sox ahead 5-4. He couldn't hold leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3, and Jose Valentin and Ray Durham hit two-run homers before his departure.

Left without a decision in the Orioles' 8-7 loss, Erickson is 3-11 with a 6.65 ERA in 22 career games against the White Sox, his worst record and ERA vs. any opponent.

His only advantage might have been the afternoon sun. Erickson had a 1.99 ERA during the day, a figure that rose to 2.68 after he was charged with five runs.

"Scotty struggled today," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He was behind a lot of hitters. It wasn't a typical Scott Erickson outing."

Hargrove went to his bullpen after Erickson had thrown 102 pitches. Erickson totaled 251 in two previous starts, including a complete-game victory Tuesday.

"That's why we try to keep our pitches under 120 when they pitch," Hargrove said.

"You have 35 starts, you're going to have five where you're lights out and everything works and nobody can hit you, and you're going to have five where you can't get anybody out. It's the other 25 that you battle for. Scotty just couldn't find it."

Fordyce pays price

If Brook Fordyce was bleary-eyed yesterday morning, he had good reason. A 14-inning game and quick turnaround will do that to a player.

And if he was a bit sore, he had good reason, too. Fordyce took a beating, and not behind the plate.

Fordyce was mobbed by his teammates after Saturday's game, when his single in the 14th scored Tony Batista for a 4-3 victory over the White Sox. Players pounded on him after he rounded first, taking aim at his head, back and shoulders. Jerry Hairston almost tackled him, causing Fordyce to flee for his own safety.

"I'm an instigator, so I figured somebody would get in a few cheap shots," he said. "Somebody caught me in the nose. There are a lot of guys who aren't safe today."

A small price to pay for ending a long game. It lasted 4 hours, 54 minutes and included 30 hits and 14 pitchers. Fordyce decided the outcome by lining a Bobby Howry fastball into right field after Batista doubled off the left-field fence and Marty Cordova was walked intentionally with one out.

The White Sox walked Cordova twice to get to Fordyce, who grounded out with the bases loaded to end the 12th. Fordyce is batting .218 with five RBIs.

"It makes sense," he said. "They did it the first time when there were two outs, and then they did it with one out and a man on second because they were looking for a double play. ... You look at it as a slap in the face, but it's really not."

The Orioles' bullpen also deserved a chunk of the credit for the win. Their relievers shut out the White Sox over the final eight innings, allowing only three hits, after starter Sidney Ponson left with none out in the seventh.

First for L. Lopez

Saturday's game also featured Luis Lopez's major-league debut at first base.

Lopez's only experience at the position came during the winter-league season, but Hargrove needed him in the 10th inning after pinch-hitting for Jose Leon. Lopez, who has started at second base and shortstop with the Orioles, stroked a double to lead off the ninth and later scored the tying run.

"I've played near that bag pretty much my whole career," Lopez said, "so I pretty much know what to do."

Around the horn

Written into the original lineup yesterday as the left fielder, Cordova was switched to designated hitter. Cordova, who continues to play with a sore right foot, drilled a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Howie Clark started in left, the first time he played in the field since joining the team. ... With Melvin Mora missing the game for personal reasons, Hairston batted leadoff for the first time since May 1.

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