TORONTO - For the patrons sitting inside Windows Restaurant, high above center field at SkyDome, last night's first three innings must have been difficult to stomach.
The Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays made so many defensive blunders, the diners had to feel like spitting up their food. And then Carlos Delgado hit a ball off Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez that landed above them.
That's right, above them. The first of Delgado's two home runs bounced off a panel of Plexiglas atop the restaurant, kicking up a little cloud of dust.
By the fourth inning, the teams were knotted at eight runs apiece. Orioles shortstop Deivi Cruz made his second error of the game in the fifth, leading to two more unearned runs, and Toronto eventually pulled away for a 13-8 victory.
For the Orioles, it brought a frustrating end to a 3-4 road trip, which started with two ugly losses in Atlanta.
"The first couple innings, it didn't look like either team wanted to win it," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "I was frustrated and mad and upset, not necessarily at one person."
Lopez didn't make it through the second inning, as the Blue Jays pounded him for eight runs (six earned) on seven hits and two walks. Orioles catcher Brook Fordyce said he thought Lopez deserved better, saying the only bad pitch he made was the "hard changeup" to Delgado.
"He had great stuff," Fordyce said. "He had an explosive fastball. I feel sorry for him. It's frustrating from a team standpoint because when a guy has that kind of stuff, you can't throw it away."
With two outs in the second, Hargrove turned to Travis Driskill (1-3), hoping he could establish some order. Driskill did. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed two unearned runs on five hits, but he still took the loss.
With one out in the fifth, Cruz fielded a grounder from Reed Johnson, but his throw appeared to pull Jeff Conine's right foot off first base. Johnson was safe, and Cruz, whose defense has gone south this month, was charged with his 10th error.
Chris Woodward followed with a ground-rule double to right field that bounced into foul territory. Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons gave chase, but pulled up as he approached the blue padded wall, allowing the ball to drop.
Shannon Stewart put Toronto ahead with a sacrifice fly, and Frank Catalanotto lined a single to center, scoring Woodward to make it 10-8.
Blue Jays starter Mark Hendrickson recorded just six outs, one more than Lopez, but Toronto's bullpen turned in seven scoreless innings. Tanyon Sturtze (6-4) got the win, and Aquilino Lopez earned his second save.
Orioles left fielder Melvin Mora went 2-for-3, raising his American League-leading average to .370. He also had two walks, three RBIs and two stolen bases.
The teams traded runs like two players on a pinball machine in the first three innings. The Orioles' linescore read 2-4-2. Toronto's read 6-2-0.
The Blue Jays' marketing department has a slogan: "It's a different game up here." Last night, it seemed like that meant defense optional. Or, as they say in Canada, defence optional.
Toronto's six-run first inning included a comedy of errors by the Orioles' defense. Tony Batista missed a slow roller down the third base line by Vernon Wells, and that turned into a two-run double. Wells broke his bat on the hit, and the barrel twirled in Batista's direction.
"That's a tough play, it really is," Hargrove said. "I was really surprised they gave [Wells] a hit, but it was a tough play."
Eric Hinske hit a potential inning-ending double-play ball, but Cruz had the toss from second baseman Brian Roberts bounce off his glove for his first error of the night.
The shoddy defense became contagious.
Hinske, who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, made two errors in the second inning, allowing the Orioles to score four unearned runs.
Lopez had new life. It was 6-6. Three batters later, he was behind again.
Wells singled off the back of Lopez's leg, and then Delgado followed with his titanic blast above Windows Restaurant. That one traveled an estimated 460 feet.
The dinner patrons received another scare in the eighth inning, when Delgado hit a 440-foot blast off Orioles reliever Buddy Groom, which bounced off a blue sign just below the restaurant's floor.
Delgado now leads the majors with 25 home runs and 86 RBIs. Tom Wilson followed Delgado's second homer with another home run against Groom.
A year ago, Lopez and Groom were two of the Orioles most dependable pitchers.
Last night, Lopez's ERA ballooned to 7.63 and Groom's to 6.75.
"It wasn't my day, definitely," Lopez said. "It's one of the worst days I've had."
Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies
Site: Camden Yards
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Phillies' Brandon Duckworth (3-2, 4.98) vs. O's Jason Johnson (6-3, 4.08)