Chicago holds on to bench thin O's

4-0 Loaiza, lack of options put Perlozzo in bind as White Sox prevail, 3-1

`It ties you down ... no question'

Cordova hurt, Surhoff ejected

Ponson goes 7

April 23, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

After two games of smiles and handshakes, Sam Perlozzo got to experience the dark side of managing the Orioles last night.

By the end of this 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards, Perlozzo had a group of reserves who were about as useful as the coaches sitting next to him on the bench.

B.J. Surhoff got ejected, David Segui was out with a hamstring injury and Marty Cordova was a late scratch because of a stiff right elbow.

When Jay Gibbons hit his third homer of the season, trimming Chicago's lead to two with one out in the ninth, Perlozzo had to be tempted to yell, "Hey Crowley, grab a bat, you're up next!"

But Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley ended his illustrious pinch-hitting career in 1983. Perlozzo's bench options were limited to second-year catcher Geronimo Gil and Jose Morban, who has two career at-bats above Single-A.

"It ties you down," Perlozzo said, "There's no question about that."

Something may have to give today. Cordova, whose elbow stiffened up after batting practice, will undergo a CT scan, and Segui will test his right hamstring, which has kept him out of the lineup since Thursday.

After the game, Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said there were no plans to bring someone in from Triple-A Ottawa, but Perlozzo said, "If we get bad news [today], we'll have to get some help. I think David's getting better and better, so that's good news."

The injury predicament didn't bode well for the Orioles on a night when White Sox starter Esteban Loaiza continued with his LaMarr Hoyt impersonation, circa 1983. Hoyt won the 1983 Cy Young Award for the White Sox after winning 13 consecutive games.

Loaiza (4-0) matched New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina for the major league lead in wins, allowing just four hits in 8 1/3 innings, dropping the Orioles back below .500 at 9-10.

With Mike Hargrove back in Texas while his mother recovers from gallbladder surgery, Perlozzo breezed through his first two games as interim manager, beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-1 behind Omar Daal and 4-0 behind Rick Helling.

Last night, Sidney Ponson (1-2) gave him another strong pitching performance, but this time Loaiza stymied the Orioles' offense with an impressive array of changeups, cut fastballs and sliders.

"We ran into a buzz saw," Perlozzo said. "He had us frustrated all night, and he's been doing it all year, so we'll give him credit for that."

Another small crowd - 18,676 paid - turned out to see the Orioles squander seven strong innings from Ponson, who allowed five hits and one walk.

Frank Thomas homered off Ponson in the first inning, Joe Crede had a run-scoring double in the fifth inning, and Paul Konerko had a run-scoring single off Orioles reliever Rick Bauer in the ninth, making it 3-0.

With Loaiza three outs from his fifth career shutout, White Sox manager Jerry Manuel let him go back out for the ninth.

Jeff Conine swung at a first-pitch changeup and hit a lazy fly to center field for the first out. Then Gibbons smacked a 1-0 pitch over the left-field fence for an opposite-field home run.

At that point, Manuel pulled Loaiza, bringing on struggling closer Billy Koch.

In his first 10 appearances this season, Koch posted an 8.68 ERA, blowing two of his four save opportunities.

Tony Batista hit a long fly down the left-field line, but Carlos Lee made the catch for the second out. One out from victory, Koch walked Melvin Mora, bringing the tying run to the plate.

It was Deivi Cruz's turn to bat, and Perlozzo had little choice other than to let him hit. Cruz, who has yet to draw a walk this season, lined the second pitch to center field, ending the game with his average at .179.

"Honestly," Perlozzo said, "I sat there several innings, thinking about each guy in the field, wondering, `What am I going to do if this guy goes down?' Because I'm sitting there with two guys who can play, and one's an infielder, one's a catcher."

After grounding to first to end the eighth inning, Surhoff was ejected by plate umpire Eric Cooper. Surhoff had some words for Cooper from the dugout about a pitch earlier in the count that Cooper called a strike when Surhoff thought it should be a ball.

"I just told him, `I thought it was a bad pitch,'" Surhoff said. "I told him, `The plate's too big right now.' "

Perlozzo decided that if the Orioles came back to tie the game, and Surhoff's spot in the order came up again, Morban would enter as the designated hitter.

Had someone been injured, Perlozzo weighed scenarios with Gil entering at first base, third base or left field.

But no bit of managerial genius could have gotten the Orioles past Loaiza on this night.

"It's a shame," Orioles catcher Brook Fordyce said, "because Sidney pitched right with him."

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Chicago White Sox

Site:Camden Yards

Time:7:05

TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters:White Sox's Bartolo Colon (2-0, 3.21) vs. Orioles' Jason Johnson (2-0, 2.89)

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