O's stay silent until 9th, but Bedard quiets Jays

He has 7 scoreless innings in 4-1 victory over Toronto

April 24, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - Just like that, Friday's slugfest turned into a Saturday afternoon pitching duel and Erik Bedard's homecoming became one of the best outings of his young career.

A lifelong Blue Jays fan who was born and still lives in Ontario, Bedard dominated Toronto over seven scoreless innings and got enough help from the Orioles' bats and defense to get his first win of the season, 4-1, before 20,051 at the Rogers Centre.

In his first professional appearance in Canada, Bedard (1-1) struck out a season-high six, allowed only seven hits and exited after the seventh inning when left fielder B.J. Surhoff threw out Alex Rios at home, preserving the Orioles' 1-0 lead.

"The first win of the season, you always remember and especially that it was in Toronto," said Bedard, who was coming off an outing in which he gave up nine hits and eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday. "My parents were here. It was pretty exciting."

Right-hander Sidney Ponson will oppose Toronto's ace, Roy Halladay today, with the first-place Orioles (11-7) looking for the three-game sweep of the Blue Jays (9-10), who have dropped four straight to fall below .500 for the first time this season.

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, hitless for the three previous games after hitting safely in the season's first 14, led off the game with an opposite-field home run, improving his career-high total to seven.

Roberts' homer was all the Orioles would get off Blue Jays starter and hard-luck loser Dave Bush (0-3) until they scored three in the ninth against closer Miguel Batista after Jorge Julio pitched a scoreless eighth.

Vernon Wells hit a bases-empty shot off B.J. Ryan in the ninth inning for Toronto's only run.

"[Bedard] threw a pretty good game today," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli, whose starter threw 110 pitches, 67 for strikes. "This kid has the stuff to be a pretty good pitcher, and the only thing you look at with him is pitch count. When you have his pitch count low, he's pretty good."

Bedard needed to be good yesterday. A day after scoring 13 runs on 17 hits in the series opener, the Orioles managed only five hits and one run against Bush through eight innings. It's a scenario the Orioles left-hander is getting used to.

Before the three-run ninth, the Orioles had scored only six runs for Bedard in his four starts. But yesterday, the Orioles made up for minimal support with their bats by giving Bedard plenty with their gloves.

Making his first start of the season at first base, Surhoff got Bedard out of a jam in the first by making a diving stop on Corey Koskie's grounder and then starting an inning-ending double play.

Leadoff man Reed Johnson singled in the sixth, but Bedard struck out Frank Menechino looking, and catcher Javy Lopez threw out Johnson, who was running on the pitch, at second. The biggest play, however, came the next inning.

Two straight Blue Jay singles put men on first and second with two outs. Gregg Zaun blooped a single to left and the charging Surhoff, who was moved from first base to the outfield at the start of the inning, came up throwing. The ball got to Lopez just as Alex Rios, who was trying to score from second, was arriving at the plate and the Blue Jay slid into Lopez.

Plate umpire Larry Vanover ruled that Lopez sufficiently blocked the plate and called Rios out.

"B.J. played shallow," Mazzilli said. "B.J. knows how to play the outfield. When you see a ball that's not hit hard fall in, usually you see the guy score."

Said Surhoff: "If I didn't think I had any chance, I wouldn't have thrown it. ... I knew if it was on target, he was going to have to knock Javy off the plate."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons burst from the dugout to argue the call. He spiked his hat to the turf and was promptly ejected by Vanover.

"It was a bang-bang play," Lopez said. "I thought he was out. He hit my leg. I'm pretty sure I had my leg right in front of home plate."

Gibbons obviously disagreed, but he probably did himself a favor in getting ejected, because he didn't have to watch the top of the ninth inning from the dugout.

The Blue Jays, who had the fewest errors in the American League entering this series, have made five in the last two days, including two in the ninth yesterday. Batista's high throw to home eluded Zaun and allowed pinch runner Larry Bigbie to score on an RBI grounder by Jay Gibbons.

Luis Matos then hit a sacrifice fly, and after Roberts reached on Eric Hinske's fielding error, Rafael Palmeiro singled to score Gibbons. The three-run lead took most of the tension from Mazzilli.

"One day, we're going to get eight or 10 [runs] for Bedard," the Orioles manager joked.

That wasn't yesterday, but it hardly mattered.

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