O's rally by Jays, hit .500 mark

Team earns 11-7 win after being down 6-0

Matthews may go on DL

August 24, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Scott Erickson couldn't make it through the second inning, and that wasn't even the Orioles' most troubling sight early in last night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Gary Matthews, whose star has been on the rise, left after the first inning with a strained right wrist and could be placed on the disabled list today.

The Orioles reached the .500 mark for the first time since May 11, overcoming a six-run deficit to win their fourth consecutive game, 11-7, before 32,955 at Camden Yards.

But the excitement of reaching a goal owner Peter Angelos set during spring training was tempered by the game's early developments.

Matthews first injured his wrist in Thursday night's victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, when he grounded to second base in the sixth inning. He finished all 11 innings and was fine during batting practice yesterday, but the pain was evident when he grounded into a double play to end the first inning.

After hitting the ball to second baseman Orlando Hudson, the speedy Matthews could barely run, and his right arm hung weakly by his side as he walked to the dugout.

X-rays showed no broken bones, but Matthews will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

"We don't know the seriousness of it," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "But it certainly is serious enough that he had to come out of the ballgame."

The Orioles are getting used to seeing Erickson struggle, but losing Matthews would be a setback. Matthews, who turns 28 on Sunday, is batting .295 in his past 35 games and has been their regular No. 3 hitter since mid-June.

He hit the game-winning three-run homer on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay, starting the Orioles on this winning streak. The last time the Orioles (63-63) were at .500 this late in a season was Sept. 21, 1998.

They have hovered around the break-even mark all season, and this was their sixth chance to get back to that point since they fell to 18-19 on May 12. They were 0-5 in their previous five tries, and last night couldn't have started much worse.

Erickson lasted just 1 2/3 innings, as eight of the 13 batters he faced reached base. He was charged with six runs on six hits and two walks.

In his past seven starts, Erickson has a 10.86 ERA. During that span, he has pitched 29 innings and allowed 67 base runners.

"I think we're just kind of shaking our heads over that right now," Hargrove said.

With a doubleheader today, the Orioles need a new starting pitcher for the nightcap, and they will likely recall Sean Douglass, who spent last night in a Baltimore hotel. Hargrove met with Erickson after the game, but the manager said the team does not plan to put Erickson on the disabled list today.

"Scotty will be in the bullpen," Hargrove said. "I just had a meeting with him after the game, and he assures me that he can throw [today]. We'll put him in the bullpen, and if we have to use him, we'll use him. We'll talk about his next start after that."

The Orioles might make room for Douglass by placing Matthews on the disabled list. The Erickson issue will be addressed later.

Matthews and Erickson were unavailable for comment after the game.

When Erickson faltered, Chris Brock (2-1) came in and pitched brilliantly, allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings. B.J. Ryan pitched the final two innings for his first save of the season.

Brock downplayed the significance of reaching .500 with 36 games remaining.

"If you all didn't tell us, we wouldn't know," he said.

Trailing 6-0 after the second inning, the Orioles stormed back with home runs by Jay Gibbons (No. 23 of the season), Geronimo Gil (10), Melvin Mora (18) and Tony Batista (24). The Orioles have now hit 137 home runs this season, surpassing last year's total of 136.

"I told my wife I was going to hit 20 [home runs] before the season," said Mora, whose previous career high was seven. "She said, `20?' I said, `Yeah, that's what I'm working for.' "

Chris Singleton, who replaced Matthews in center field, singled his first three trips to the plate and had the game-tying RBI in the sixth inning when he singled home Mora. The Orioles batted around that inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and chasing Blue Jays starter Steve Parris from the game. Scott Cassidy (0-3) took the loss.

"We've got a long way to go," Hargrove said. "Just because we're at .500 doesn't mean it's a done deal. We've got, hopefully, a lot of baseball left this year, and we've got to stay at it."

Orioles today

Opponent:Toronto Blue Jays (day-night doubleheader)

Site:Camden Yards

Times:1:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio:Game 1, No TV/WBAL (1090 AM); Game 2, Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Game 1 starters:Blue Jays' Pete Walker (6-3, 4.40) vs. Orioles' Travis Driskill (8-6, 4.77)

Game 2 starters:Blue Jays' Esteban Loaiza (5-7, 5.56) vs. Orioles' undecided

.500 again

For the first time since the morning of May 12, the Orioles are a .500 team again. The previous five times they needed a win to get to .500, they had lost (W-L indicates record before that day's game):

Date W-L Opponent Result

May 14 18-19 at Cleveland L, 6-5

June 27 37-38 N.Y. Yankees L, 3-2

July 11 42-43 Oakland L, 4-1

July 17 45-46 at Toronto L, 7-1

July 21 47-48 Chicago White Sox L, 8-7

Aug. 23 62-63 Toronto W, 11-7

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