Lopez to Lopez to stay battery?

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher credits '05 No. 1 catcher with helping him get over hump

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

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo chose to have Javy Lopez and not Ramon Hernandez catch Rodrigo Lopez on Thursday, the move was made as an attempt to change the struggling fortunes of the Orioles' pitcher.

Now that it worked so well - Lopez allowed two hits and no runs over 7 1/3 innings in beating the Seattle Mariners for his first victory since Opening Day - Perlozzo, at the very least, will consider going back to the same arrangement for Lopez's next start on Tuesday.

"It worked this time and we'll have to see next time where we sit with Ramon," Perlozzo said. "I had talked to Rodrigo about that and I said, `I'll do it because we need you to get on track.' If it's something in his head at that particular time, I want to erase it. I think if he's starting to pitch a little better, it won't matter who is catching."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lopez became the first American League pitcher to lose at least six straight starts and end the skid with an outing of seven-plus shutout innings since former Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie performed the feat for the Mariners in 1984.

Lopez gave some of the credit to his battery mate, but didn't say he preferred throwing to Javy Lopez, rather than Hernandez, who had caught his previous 10 starts.

"We were on the same page all the time," said Rodrigo Lopez. "He was pretty good. He gave me good ideas when I struck [Richie] Sexson out. He gave me a good idea to throw a pitch that I wouldn't think to throw, and I did and I struck him out. He was in the game all the time. I feel comfortable with him. It was a good idea for now."

Rodrigo Lopez said he also plans to use the same approach he relied on against the Mariners. Struggling with his location during his pre-game bullpen session, Lopez decided he would take something off his fastball and concentrate on location.

It resulted in what Mariners center fielder Jeremy Reed called a "[batting practice] fastball," one that kept Seattle off-balance for the entire game.

Ray adapts to changes

Before being needed for a five-out save on Thursday, Chris Ray had pitched just once since May 17. Earlier in the season, Ray was seemingly either pitching or warming every other game. But as the Orioles have been mired in a slump, the 24-year-old has had few save opportunities.

"Lately, I've been actually getting up in the 'pen, but not pitching," Ray said. "That five-game stretch where I didn't throw, I wasn't up at all. You can throw bullpen, but the intensity is not really there."

Benson gets nod

The Orioles will go with Kris Benson tomorrow on three days' rest. Perlozzo was contemplating using John Halama or rookie Adam Loewen, but opted for Benson, who lasted only two innings on Wednesday.

The Orioles manager said that the club could use Loewen in relief and will likely re-evaluate his standing with the club when it returns from the road trip.

"He's certainly going to learn something up here, working with Leo [Mazzone]," Perlozzo said. "If someone fails, he can still step in. I don't see us carrying a guy that we want to be pitching for very long. Unless he can come out of the 'pen and pitch very effectively, you can probably foresee a change."

Perlozzo also said that he wasn't sure how long third-string catcher Raul Chavez, who has started just twice this season, would remain on the roster.

"The same way with [Brandon] Fahey and [Ed] Rogers," Perlozzo said. "If we go three weeks down the road and Fahey is not getting to play, you may want to send him out and bring Eddy up. You just keep juggling back and forth so you always have a sharp guy."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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