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

Starter leaves after five again with lead, but bullpen yields 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, get on a roll. He can leave games with a lead.

He just can't stick around long enough to satisfy them.

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 hung on 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.'

The Orioles still haven't discussed a contract extension with Perlozzo. The roster appears to be set for the last 3M-= weeks of the season, so it's up to the players currently in uniform to pad his resume and convince ownership that he should return in 2006.

Double-A Bowie missed the Eastern League playoffs, but the Orioles don't intend to add anyone else.

"Unless there's injuries, we don't expect any call-ups." executive vice president Jim Beattie said.

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

Maine isn't as opposing on the mound, but he hasn't given up more than three runs in an outing. 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. But the Orioles scored twice in the bottom half, and Maine left the game with a chance to win his second consecutive start.

Trying to make it happen, Perlozzo went through four relievers in the seventh, beginning with Julio, 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 allowed 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.

"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. But it just snowballed. It didn't work.'

The Blue Jays jumped on Maine early, but the impact wasn't severe.

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

If Lopez had gotten a little lower, Adams probably would have been out unless he jarred the ball loose. But Adams found an opening and avoided contact.

As a catcher, Lopez might want to close his stance at the plate. He"d do a better job blocking it. 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 tripled with one out and Jay Gibbons singled. Lopez was batting .342 in his last 29 games before going 2-for-3 last night.

The Orioles had a chance to tie the game in the first after Brian Roberts tripled, but Blue Jays starter Scott Downs struck out Melvin Mora, Tejada and Gibbons.

More opportunities were wasted in the second. Lopez singled and Eric Byrnes reached on an error with one out, but Chris Gomez grounded into a double play.

Mora walked with two outs in the third, but Tejada struck out again. Tejada tied Stan Musial last night for seventh place on the all-time consecutive-games list, but he couldn't tie the Blue Jays.

Unable to convert chances into runs during the first three innings, the Orioles scored twice in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead. The just needed a little help.

Lopez walked with one out and came home on an opposite- field double by Alejandro Freire. After Byrnes lined out, Gomez sent a grounder up the middle that Adams smothered. Freire made a wide turn around third before realizing the ball hadn't gone through, and as he scrambled to get back, Adams bounced a throw into the Blue Jays' dugout.

The Orioles were averaging 2.8 runs over their last 25 games before facing Downs. Maine didn't look like he"d need that many in the early going.

Adams' double stood as the only Toronto hit until Zaun homered in the fifth. Maine retired 12 of 13 batters, but he was gone after the fifth, his pitch count at 89 and his trust again placed in the bullpen.

This time, it wasn't rewarded.

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