Bullpen failure dooms Orioles

Brower, Halama deliver no relief in 7th inning as O's suffer 3rd loss in row

Blue Jays 7 Orioles 3


TORONTO -- Perhaps it was fitting that Toronto Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan, the former anchor of the Orioles' relief corps, had a good seat for his old team's latest bullpen collapse.

Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells broke a seventh-inning deadlock with an RBI double off reliever Jim Brower, and the Blue Jays scored three more runs off the Orioles' beleaguered bullpen, sending the visitors to their third straight defeat, 7-3, before 32,257 at Rogers Centre.

"I was trying to get through that inning." Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said of the decisive seventh. "That's been a tough inning for us all year."

Perlozzo pulled starter Rodrigo Lopez after he walked No. 9 hitter Russ Adams to start the inning. Lopez allowed five hits, walked four and watched in disappointment from the dugout as the bullpen couldn't prevent him from his second loss, one that dropped the Orioles to 11-10.

Perlozzo wanted to save Sendy Rleal for a possible tie game in the eighth inning, and decided on Brower, who got one out but walked Frank Catalanotto, putting men on first and second. He made several tough pitches that Wells spoiled before throwing a belt-high slider that the Blue Jay lined to center field.

Nick Markakis' dive for the ball came up short, giving Toronto ( 10-8) a one-run lead.

"I need to make a better pitch there, but he battled." Brower said of Wells. "Five foul-offs, I think. I wanted to throw a slider low and away and it was high and away."

John Halama relieved Brower and couldn't keep the deficit at one, allowing a two-run single to pinch hitter Shea Hillenbrand and an RBI single to catcher Bengie Molina.

The 7-3 lead was comfortable enough that Toronto manager John Gibbons kept Ryan in the bullpen, although the tall left- hander, who had 36 saves for the Orioles last year, was warming up when Scott Schoeneweis retired catcher Ramon Hernandez to end the game.

Jay Gibbons hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh, and shortstop Miguel Tejada reached base three times in four plate appearances, continuing his torrid pace.

Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin, who improved to 4-0 with seven innings of three-run ball, carried a 3-1 lead into the sev enth, allowing only Tejada's bases-empty homer in the fourth. However, Chacin watched his lead go away - temporarily -on two Orioles swings.

Tejada, the majors' leading hitter with a .434 average, started the inning with a single and Gibbons, overmatched against New York Yankees starter Randy Johnson on Sunday, extended his arms and ripped Chacin's outside slider just over the center-field wall.

Gibbons' fifth home run, and just his fourth hit in 20 at-bats, tied the game at 3, the second time the Orioles had pulled even during the game.

Unable to get much going after Brian Roberts singled and stole second to lead off the game, the Orioles tied the score at 1 on Tejada's fourth-inning homer into the second deck. Tejada nailed Chacin's 85-mph slider, tucking his fifth home run of the season right inside the left-field foul pole.

The homer extended the hitting streak for the red-hot Tejada, the American League Player of the Week last week, to 10 games. He has four home runs and 11 RBIs during the streak.

"Miggy is a great offensive player." said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. "I've seen him in some pretty good grooves, especially in his first year [in Baltimore]. He knocked in 150 runs. He's using the whole field a lot more than he did in the past. He's using right field a lot. He's getting back to his old self."

The Blue Jays answered back with a two-run fourth, thanks to three of their prized offseason acquisitions.

Third baseman Troy Glaus started it was a double high off the left-field wall. Former Milwaukee Brewer Lyle Overbay drove him in with a single, his second run-scoring hit of the game. Molina made it 3-1 with another double.

Lopez was not at his best, but he was far sharper than in his last outing, when he allowed nine hits and seven earned runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians, his ERA sky rocketing to 7.20.

The Orioles saved him from a loss, however, with an onslaught of late offense in their 18-9 victory over the Indians. The bullpen could do the same last night.

"It's a frustrating time right now." said Brower, whose ERA is 11.45. "The last six or seven outings, I felt good. The line score is going to look real bad. I didn't get the job done."


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