Bedard 's short start makes for another long O's night

Red Sox 9

Orioles 3


BOSTON // Erik Bedard looked toward the dugout several times over the two-inning period, undoubtedlyw ondering if relief was on its way. And finally Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo had watched Bedard struggle long enough, walking briskly to the Fenway Park mound to take the ball from his 27-year-old lefthander with still no outs in the third inning.

Over the course of his 73 pitches last night, Bedard lost the ability to get major league hitters out. His normally elusive off-speed pitches were getting hammered by Boston Red Sox hitters and his normally electric fastball was frequently off-target.

Shortstop Miguel Tejada and catcher Ramon Hernandez tried to encourage him. So did pitching coach Leo Mazzone. But for the most part, Bedard was a solitary figure on the mound, until the outingmercifully came to an end.

Bedard was roughed up for six runs in two innings last night, and the Orioles' meteoric fall continued with a 9-3 loss to the Red Sox in front of 36,507, who witnessed both benches and bullpens clear during a heated eighthinning conversation between Luis Matos and Julian Tavarez.

Matos had words with the Red Sox reliever after Tavarez hit him in the side with a 1-2 pitch. The two walked toward each other, but were separated before any physical altercation could ensue.

The Orioles (14-18) have now lost four straight and are in danger of getting swept by the Red Sox (18-12) for the second time in a month's span. They are 0-5 against the American League Eastern Division leader.

Kris Benson, who has two of the Orioles' only three wins in the past 14 games, will attempt to halt the Orioles' slide this afternoon against Boston lefthander Lenny DiNardo.

Benson won't have to do much to best Bedard, who allowed seven hits and three walks, while needing 73 pitches to get six outs. It was Bedard circa second half last year, the pitcher who too often tried to nibble on the corner and then got hurt when he was forced to challenge hitters. In falling to 4-2, Bedard's ERA went up nearly a point, from 3.58 to 4.54.

After a perfect first, Bedard's struggles started with a fourpitch walk to Manny Ramirez. He then walked Mike Lowell before giving up consecutive singles to Wily Mo Pena and Trot Nixon, the first one bringing home the Red Sox's first run.

Bedard got an out on a blistering line drive by catcher Doug ]Mirabelli right at Tejada, but then surrendered a two-run single to Alex Gonzalez and a onerun base hit to Kevin Youkilis.

A 4-0 deficit was damaging enough, but Bedard could have done himself a favor by getting out of the inning at the point. But while covering first base on Mark Loretta's grounder that first baseman Chris Gomez fielded and tagged Youkilis, Bedard didn't touch the bag, failing to get the inning-ending double play even though Gomez's throw was on time.

Bedard can't be faulted for Boston's final run of that inning as Hernandez committed a passed all on a third strike to David Ortiz. Hernandez's throw to first was wide and went down the right-field line, allowing Gonzalez to score Boston's fifth run. After walking Ramirez again, Bedard retired Lowell on a foul pop to Gomez. He needed 50 pitches, but the inning was finally over.

His night, unfortunately for the Orioles, wasn't. That came a couple of hitters later after he allowed singles to Pena and Nixon and an RBI double toMirabelli to start the third.

Tim Wakefield was the recipient of all the run support, improving to 2-4 after an outing in which he gave up three runs and seven hits through six innings.He wasn't nearly as good as he was a month ago when he held the Orioles to one unearned run and five hits over six innings.

Melvin Mora hit an RBI double off him in the third. Gomez cut the Orioles' deficit to 6-3 with a two-run shot over the Green Monster in left field, his first homer of the season.

Down 7-3, the Orioles actually brought the tying run to the plate in the fifth, but Kevin Millar popped out to shallow center field and Matos flied out to left.

The Orioles' 6-3 loss on Friday as Ortiz got the winning hit, a bases-clearing double off Todd Williams with two outs in the sixth inning, dropped the Orioles to 0-4 against Boston this season. That fact was not lost on Perlozzo, who was seemingly as down after the game as he has been after any loss this season.

His feelings didn't perk up last night, especially not after watching Bedard struggle.

"I want us to start beating some teams that we are capable of beating," Perlozzo said. "We haven't done that. My competitive nature is no different than anyone else. I am tired of losing. I get tired of losing to these guys."

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