Spring Training : Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Orioles 3, Astros 2

March 18, 2004|By Roch Kubatko

Jack Cust atoned for a mental error by hitting a one-out homer off Houston reliever Taylor Buchholz in the ninth inning and giving the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Astros.

Cust launched an 0-1 pitch over the bleachers in right field for his second homer this spring. The Astros had rallied to tie the game with a run in the seventh off Erik Bedard and one in the eighth off Mike DeJean.

Kurt Ainsworth shut out the Astros on four hits over five innings. A fielding error by Melvin Mora resulted in a run off Bedard, and Houston tied the game after Cust caught a fly ball in deep left field and threw to the wrong base, allowing Charlton Jimerson to advance to second. A ground ball by Ryan Thompson scored Jason Alfaro from third rather than resulting in an inning-ending double play.

The Orioles broke a scoreless tie in the fourth against left-hander Andy Pettitte, their longtime nemesis. Luis Matos drove in Javy Lopez with a two-out single to center field. Pettitte allowed one run and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. His replacement, Brandon Duckworth, gave up a run-scoring double to Miguel Tejada in the fifth that increased the Orioles' lead to 2-0.


Luis Matos

What leg injury?

Miguel Tejada

Even his outs are loud. And he's not making many of them.

Kurt Ainsworth

What were the Giants thinking when they traded this guy?

Jack Cust

Gaffe in left field forgotten after he prevented extra innings in an exhibition game.


Melvin Mora

Lets a sharp grounder eat him alive. Nothing left but bones, and another error.

Darnell McDonald

Average dips to .179 in 28 at-bats. Lee Mazzilli says he sees things he likes in McDonald. Obviously not obsessed with stats.


Matos returned to center field yesterday and made a diving catch to end the first inning and strand two runners. Matos was playing his third game - and his first in the field - since being sidelined with a superficial stress fracture in his right shin. ... Mora continues to play despite stiffness in his right forearm that requires treatment.


Ainsworth is lined up to be the third starter, but he has the makings of an ace. There's no way he's bumped from the rotation unless he's injured. Bedard is on the fringe of the competition for the fifth spot, and though he struck out four in two innings, he also allowed a run and two hits, and walked two. He struck out Lance Berkman to end the seventh and strand the tying run, and vice president Mike Flanagan nodded his approval beside the Orioles' dugout.

Orioles today

Exhibition opponent: Minnesota Twins

Site: Bill Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers, Fla.

Time: 1:05 p.m.

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