SEATTLE - Baseball's All-Star selection Sunday came and went last weekend, and no one said a word about Orioles third baseman Tony Batista.
One year after serving as the team's lone representative at the midsummer classic, Batista became somewhat of a forgotten man. When his name's not mentioned in trade rumor these days, it's hardly mentioned at all.
And then, every once in a while, he has a game like last night's, when you wonder how the Orioles would do without him.
Batista had three hits, including his 16th home run, as the Orioles managed a rare victory at Safeco Field, defeating the Seattle Mariners, 7-2.
Rick Helling and Seattle's Ryan Franklin locked up in a 1-1 pitchers' duel through five innings, but the Orioles broke through with three runs in the sixth, capped with a two-out, two-run homer by Batista.
After going 1-for-19 in his previous five games, Batista put an end to his slump. He's now batting .252 with 60 RBIs. A year ago, Batista went to the All-Star game batting .269 with 19 home runs and 59 RBIs.
Helling (6-6) held the Mariners to two runs on seven hits over six innings, for his sixth quality start in 18 tries this year. For a quality start, a pitcher must toss at least six innings and allow three or fewer earned runs, and Helling had done that only once in his previous 10 games.
Hector Carrasco pitched two innings of scoreless relief, and Kerry Ligtenberg pitched the ninth, as the Orioles won for just the second time in 17 games at Safeco. They evened the series at one win apiece after falling short in Tuesday night's 6-5 loss.
Orioles left fielder B.J. Surhoff left the game in the seventh inning with a mild strain of his right quadriceps muscle. Melvin Mora took Surhoff's place in left field after starting the game at second base.
Mora, this year's lone All-Star representative for the Orioles, maintained his edge over Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in the American League batting race. Mora went 2-for-4, raising his average to .358. Suzuki went 1-for-4, lowering his mark at .349.
For the first time in 43 games, the Orioles did not have Brian Roberts in the leadoff spot. Back spasms forced Roberts to leave Tuesday's game, and he was still hurting yesterday.
With Roberts in the lineup, the Orioles have averaged 5.7 runs per game, batting .299. Roberts has had recurring bouts with back spasms since his freshman year in college. Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said he was day-to-day, but he added that he'd be surprised if Roberts were ready to play by tonight.
Hargrove moved center fielder Luis Matos into the leadoff spot last night, with Mora, Roberts' replacement at second base, moving up to No. 2.
Roberts had reached base in 38 of his 42 games atop the lineup, and as if on cue, Matos led off the game with a single up the middle. Mora moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, Matos advanced to third on a passed ball, and Surhoff put the Orioles in front with a run-scoring double down the first-base line.
Helling made the l-0 lead stand until the fifth inning, mixing his pitches effectively to keep the Mariners off-balance.
One time through the lineup, Seattle managed just one hit. Ben Davis singled toward the left-center field gap and tried for a double, but Matos got to the ball and fired a strike to Mora at second base for the out.
Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons made a diving catch to rob Randy Winn of a hit in the fourth inning, helping keep Helling in the pitching duel.
Seattle finally tied it in the fifth, as Mike Cameron lined a one-out hit into the right-center gap, with Matos making another fine play to hold him to a single. Cameron stole second, and advanced to third on a ground out by Mark McLemore.
Helling walked Jeff Cirillo, a .222 hitter, and it proved costly, as Davis lined another single to right, scoring Cameron.
Mora started the sixth inning with a single through the hole between shortstop and third base, his first hit of the road trip coming in his fifth at-bat. Surhoff followed with a deep fly ball to left field. Winn ran back and caught the ball, but Mora tagged up and slid safely into second base.
Jeff Conine lined a single to center, with Mora holding at third, and Jay Gibbons put the Orioles back in front with a sacrifice fly to center.