No boost from Bedard

Left-hander suffers 1st loss of season as Orioles' skid hits four

Blue Jays 8 Orioles 2

April 27, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

TORONTO -- They had exactly the man they wanted on the mound to help break a relatively short but frustrating losing streak, rest a beat-up bullpen and reverse momentum for a starting rotation that has unexpectedly sputtered.

But Erik Bedard did nothing to change the Orioles' fortunes last night. Neither did a slightly altered batting order or a rare early lead.

Former Orioles closer B.J. Ryan pitched a perfect ninth for the Toronto Blue Jays, who dealt Bedard his first loss and the visitors their season-long fourth straight defeat, 8-2, before 19,936 at Rogers Centre.

Falling back to the .500 mark at 11-11, the Orioles managed runs in the first inning on Jay Gibbons' RBI single and in the fifth on Jeff Conine's home run. Bedard needed much more.

Trying to become the first Orioles pitcher to win his first five starts of a season since Ben McDonald won his first seven in 1994, Bedard didn't have his best stuff from the outset.

"I just left a lot of pitches out in the middle of the plate." Bedard said. "They are a good team and they hit them. It happens. I can't go the whole year without losing a game."

Pitching about 300 miles from where he grew up in Navan, Ontario, Bedard (4-1) battled through five innings and appeared to be on his way to getting the Orioles into the seventh, a rare feat for an Orioles starter, with the team trailing by just one run.

But Bedard allowed a two-out single to Reed Johnson in the sixth and then a towering two-run shot by right fielder Alex Rios. The home run, off a 92-mph fastball, traveled an estimated 421 feet. Bedard was removed after the homer, his line reading 10 hits, five earned runs and just one strikeout on 106 pitches.

"I think he threw the ball fairly well." manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He kept us in the ballgame. That pitch to Rios, I don't think he threw a ball as high as that all night."

Sendy Rleal relieved Bedard and gave up a bases-empty homer to Vernon Wells on his second pitch, increasing Toronto's lead to 6-2. Wells added another mammoth shot in the eighth, a two-run homer off Eddy Rodriguez, after first baseman Kevin Millar had failed to tag Rios when the Blue Jay was caught up between first and second base.

For the Orioles, frustration was evident all over the latest loss. Melvin Mora, who was switched to second in the order in an attempt to jump-start the offense, slammed his helmet to the turf after making an out to end the seventh inning. Millar punted his bat and then slammed his helmet after striking out in the fourth.

"We didn't make a play here and there and that cost us a couple of runs." Perlozzo said. "Right now, you're not getting away with the mistakes. That usually happens when you are facing a team that is hot.

"We need to pick up a lot of parts of our game."

Ted Lilly was the third straight left-handed starter the Orioles have faced, and the results haven't been good. The Orioles' team average against lefties this season entering last night was .176, as opposed to .293 against righties

Overall, the Orioles are 1-4 in games started by opposition left- handers and 10-6 against right-handed starters.

"You usually don't see that too often." Perlozzo said about facing three straight lefties in Randy Johnson, Gustavo Chacin and Lilly. "It's just certain stretches and teams that you're playing, you end up going in line. We have a tough right- handed hitting lineup; sooner or later, we're going to bump some body."

The Orioles did get one in the first as Gibbons fought back from being down two strikes and lined a single up the middle, scoring Brian Roberts, who had led with a single.

Bedard stranded two runners in the first, though he couldn't work his way out of a jam the next inning. He allowed a lead off single to Shea Hillenbrand and walked Lyle Overbay on four pitches. Aaron Hill followed with a slower roller that Millar fired to second to get one out, but Bedard couldn't handle Miguel Tejada's wide throw to first and missed getting a double play.

Tejada's error allowed Hillenbrand to score and tie the game 1-1. Shortstop John McDonald then hit an RBI double, moved to third on a passed ball by Ramon Hernandez and scored on Johnson's groundout. That gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.

Bedard needed 29 pitches to get out of that inning, not a good sign for Perlozzo, who was hoping for Bedard to deliver a long outing to take some pressure off the Orioles' bullpen.

The Orioles had a chance to inch closer in the third after Roberts hit a one-out double and moved to third on Mora's hard- hit single to left field. Tejada, the league's leading hitter, came up and hit a soft liner to second base. Gibbons flied out to the warning track in left field, ending the inning.

Conine led off the fifth with a home run, slamming Lilly's curveball an estimated 406 feet off the base of the second deck in left field. It was Conine's third home run of the season, tying his total from last season with the Florida Marlins.

Lilly (2-1), who gave up six hits and two earned runs, was gone after the fifth, leaving a one-run lead for the bullpen to hold.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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