R. Lopez roughed up in O's 11-0 loss

After excelling in relief, Orioles pitcher falls to Mariners in first start

May 21, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - For four innings last night, Rodrigo Lopez had the Orioles wondering why they hadn't put him back in the starting rotation weeks ago.

Seattle Mariners left-hander Jamie Moyer was up to his usual tricks, keeping the Orioles' hitters scoreless, off-balance and disillusioned, but Lopez kept matching him, zero for zero.

And then it happened.

Lopez hit a wall, and the sleepless Seattle offense started hitting everything in sight. The Mariners scored six runs in the fifth inning and cruised to an 11-0 victory at Safeco Field.

The Orioles' three-game winning streak ended, and they missed a chance at their first three-game sweep in Seattle since 1997, while the last-place Mariners won for just the second time in 11 games.

Moyer (2-2) continued to torment his former club, as he allowed seven hits in seven scoreless innings. He is 15-2 against the Orioles in his career.

Lopez (3-2) saw his first start of the season go bad quickly after holding the Mariners hitless for the four innings. He came into the game with a 0.33 ERA but was charged with six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, raising that mark to 1.97.

Those first four innings confirmed everything Lopez thought of himself as he toiled away in 12 relief appearances to start the season, allowing just one earned run in 27 1/3 innings.

He had just 38 pitches entering the fifth, which was just four more than Orioles starter Erik Bedard used in the first inning of his start against the Chicago White Sox on May 12. To that point, Lopez had induced five first-pitch outs.

But the Mariners stuck with the game plan, attacking Lopez early in the count. Edgar Martinez lined the first pitch of the fifth inning up the middle for a single - Seattle's first hit of the game.

That started the string, and suddenly the struggling Mariners hitters awakened. John Olerud (batting .238, with one home run) drove an inside pitch a few feet to the right of Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro for another single. Then Dan Wilson (.320) muscled a single to right field, loading the bases.

Rich Aurilia (.236, no home runs) stepped in, and Lopez quickly got ahead 1-2. But Aurilia fouled off three pitches and Lopez missed with a fastball and slider, walking home the go-ahead run.

Quinton McCracken flied to left, but playing in for the double play, Palmeiro saw a sharp grounder from Ichiro Suzuki go off his glove, and Olerud scored to make it 2-0. The official scorer originally charged Palmeiro with an error, but later changed the play to a hit, so all six runs in the inning were earned.

Palmeiro made a nice play for the second out, throwing home to force Wilson, but Bret Boone delivered the big blow, hitting the first pitch from Lopez through the hole between second and third for a two-run single.

Lopez had thrown 66 pitches, 28 in that inning alone, and Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli went to his bullpen. But John Parrish fared no better. Raul Ibanez and Martinez delivered run-scoring singles, stretching the lead to 6-0.

By the third inning, Moyer had the Orioles muttering to themselves. After the first two batters reached that inning, the struggling Brian Roberts failed to execute a sacrifice bunt, making contact with the ball but running right into it as he moved up the first-base line.

Melvin Mora, who went 2-for-4 to raised his major league-leading average to .386, flied out to center with a defensive swing, and then Moyer made Miguel Tejada look helpless in a six-pitch at-bat.

Tejada kept taking vicious swings at the soft offerings from Moyer, swinging through them or fouling them off, and each time he would walk a complete circle back to the batter's box, talking to himself with his cheek muscles clenched.

That at-bat ended, like many others, with Tejada on his front foot, and with an pop fly to center field.

Mazzilli had eschewed the numbers when he made his lineup. B.J. Surhoff is batting .368 (21-for-57) with three home runs for his career against Moyer, but he was on the bench for the fourth straight game, while Jay Gibbons, hitless in eight career at-bats against Moyer coming in, was in right field.

Gibbons and Matos singled with two outs in the fourth, bringing Larry Bigbie to the plate. Bigbie had been Moyer's toughest out in the past, with four hits in seven career at-bats, but he hit a lazy fly to left field, ending that threat.

Two times through the lineup, Moyer induced eight weak flyouts. The Orioles had three hits, but none of them was hit especially hard.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Calif.)

Time: 10:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Eric DuBose (3-3, 5.20) vs. Angels' Jarrod Washburn (7-1, 4.68)

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