Douglass, O's come up short in loss to Jays

Rookie tough for 7 innings, but Halladay wins duel, 2-1

September 19, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Gone, it seems, are the days when the Orioles could scratch and claw and eke out victories in games when the pitching was solid for both sides. These days, they either blow out their opponent or they lose.

That made it tough for rookie pitcher Sean Douglass last night, when he made his best impression of the season and still came away with another loss.

Douglass held the Toronto Blue Jays to two runs in seven innings, but the Orioles were the ones slamming their bats and tossing their helmets in disgust.

Toronto ace Roy Halladay has mystified the Orioles like a sorcerer all season, and he was at it again, as the Blue Jays claimed a 2-1 victory before 20,928 at Camden Yards.

"Sean Douglass was outstanding tonight," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Halladay was just a little bit better."

With 11 games remaining, the Orioles are looking for positives to carry into next season, so the performance by Douglass made this loss a little easier to take. Still, it left them 2 1/2 games behind Toronto in their battle for third place in the American League East.

The Orioles are 4-21 in their past 25 games, and all four of their victories in that span have come by at least five runs. The formula that made them so effective early in the season -- get an early lead, no matter how small, and hand it to the bullpen -- has gone by the wayside.

"Tonight, you've got to tip your hat," Douglass said of Halladay, who is 3-0 against the Orioles this season with a 0.82 ERA. "He pitched great. Ninety percent of the time, you're going to win those games."

Halladay held the Orioles scoreless for seven innings, and then Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca went to his bullpen, summoning Cliff Politte to protect a 2-0 lead. Tony Batista drew a leadoff walk and scored from first on a one-out double by Marty Cordova.

The Orioles had the tying run on second base, but Melvin Mora flied to left and Luis Lopez struck out, ending the inning.

Blue Jays closer Kelvim Escobar pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 35th save, as Toronto improved to 11-4 on the season against the Orioles. The fans are doing a collective yawn this week, and this series has drawn the three smallest crowds in Camden Yards history.

Douglass' performance could have come in a vacuum, and the Orioles would have taken it. At 23, the hard-throwing right-hander represents a possible bright spot for the future, but after going 2-1 last September, he has yet to earn a victory this season.

This time, he matched Halladay in a scoreless duel, until Jose Cruz hit a run-scoring single in the fifth. Carlos Delgado added a leadoff homer in the seventh, his 28th, and beyond that, the Blue Jays managed just three hits off Douglass (0-4).

It was the first quality start of the season for Douglass, who had posted a 7.71 ERA in his six previous starts.

"Sean just has to realize that he can pitch here," Hargrove said. "And every time out, the lesson gets more ingrained. Tonight should have been a tremendous positive for Sean, other than the fact he got the loss. It was a very, very good start at the end of a long season."

At one time, Halladay (17-7) was just as impressionable, and this year he has blossomed into an All-Star. He entered the game with the eighth-best ERA in the AL and lowered it to 3.09.

"It would have been great to get [Douglass] a win tonight," Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons said. "He pitched great."

Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick played his 100th consecutive game without an error last night and needs just one more to match the major-league record for a shortstop set by Rey Ordonez, from 1999 to 2000.

Bordick converted six chances, giving him an even 500 in a row without an error. On No. 500, Bordick hustled toward second base, fielded a chopper and threw out the speedy Vernon Wells at first base, ending the sixth inning with a runner on third.

"That's a tremendous achievement," Hargrove said. "I hope a lot that he makes [the record], but we'll see."

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