Maine left on short end of O's 7-4 loss to Jays

Lasting only five innings again, O's starter sees bullpen yield 4-run 7th

September 08, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

John Maine has shown the Orioles that he can retire major league hitters. He can work out of jams, find his rhythm, leave games with a lead.

He just needs to stay around a bit longer.

Maine still hasn't gone more than five innings in six appearances this season, and the bullpen couldn't protect him last night in a 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before 20,146 at Camden Yards.

The Blue Jays scored four runs in the seventh to take the lead -- two charged to Jorge Julio, two more to Chris Ray -- and the Orioles lost for the 14th time in 19 games. They're 14-18 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo.

"He can't keep going five innings," Perlozzo said. "He's got better stuff and should go deeper in the game than that."

Perlozzo went through four relievers in the seventh, beginning with Julio (3-5), who gave up back-to-back singles with one out. An error by center fielder Luis Matos allowed Reed Johnson to take third, and rookie Ray surrendered two hits and walked a batter to again put the Blue Jays ahead.

Corey Koskie lifted a sacrifice fly off Steve Kline, and Shea Hillenbrand singled off Todd Williams to give Toronto a 7-4 lead. The Blue Jays sent nine batters to the plate, each swing exposing more holes in the Orioles' bullpen.

"It just snowballed," Perlozzo said. "It didn't work."

Julio got three easy outs in the sixth, but the game ended with his ERA at 5.63 and his confidence taking another hit. He's been throwing on the side each day with pitching coach Ray Miller to improve his command. Now the results need to get better.

"I thought Julio had a good sixth, and he gets the first guy out in the [seventh] and then `bang, bang,'" Perlozzo said. "I brought Chris in and he has good stuff. He can get righties and lefties out. I thought that was the best way to go."

The Orioles probably will spend another winter repairing their bullpen, especially if they can't re-sign B.J. Ryan, who wouldn't negotiate during the season and is likely gone. They must determine if Ray can close, and figure out what to do with Julio, who has gone from closer to setup man to middle relief.

"I still think he can be a productive pitcher," Perlozzo said. "He's got a good enough arm and he's got good enough stuff. He's still in the running for me."

One night after chasing 99-mph heat from Daniel Cabrera, the Blue Jays faced a pitcher who tops out in the low 90s. Prospects come with different radar readings.

Maine won't intimidate anyone, with his stature or his fastball, but he hasn't given up more than three runs in any appearance, including four starts. His first major league win came against the Blue Jays after he tossed five scoreless innings in an Aug. 13 start at Camden Yards.

Catcher Gregg Zaun homered in the fifth last night, and the Blue Jays added another run to lead 3-2.

"He should have mixed his pitches better that inning," Perlozzo said.

The Orioles scored twice in the bottom half, however, and Maine left the game with his pitch count at 89.

"It's frustrating," Maine said. "I usually go at least six. But I'm throwing too many pitches and walking too many guys and getting deep in counts. I'm going 3-2 on a lot of guys. You can't do that. But these guys are a lot more patient. They make contact, they make you fight for it, they make you earn it."

Russ Adams led off the first inning with a double and Frank Catalanotto walked. After a force at second, Corey Koskie flied to center field, where Matos made the catch and threw home. Adams slid between catcher Javy Lopez's legs to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

As a catcher, Lopez might want to close his stance at the plate. He'd do a better job blocking it. But as a hitter, he seems to be doing everything right.

Lopez continues to swing a hot bat, making a periodic lapse in defense easier to accept. His double in the fifth inning scored the go-ahead run after Miguel Tejada, who tied Stan Musial for seventh on the all-time consecutive-games list, tripled with one out and Jay Gibbons singled. Lopez is batting .351 in his past 30 games.

The Orioles led 4-3, but the inning could have been more profitable. Left fielder Catalanotto made a running catch on the warning track to rob Chris Gomez and strand two runners.

"I was adding up two more runs on the board for us," Perlozzo said.

Adams' double in the first stood as the only Toronto hit until Zaun homered in the fifth. Maine retired 12 of 13 batters, but he was gone before the sixth, his trust placed in the bullpen once more.

"The way he was pitching," Lopez said, "I think he could go a little further."

He'll have to start doing it if he wants to stay.

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