R. Lopez bests Moyer, Mariners

Orioles 2 Mariners 0


About 30 hours earlier, Rodrigo Lopez's future with the Orioles hung in the balance as trade rumors swirled about the right-handed pitcher. But there he was last night, walking off the Camden Yards mound to a standing ovation.

He tipped his cap and then pointed to his family in the stands before ducking into the dugout, a good night's work preserved. Lopez, Tim Byrdak and Chris Ray combined to shut out Seattle, 2-0, before a crowd of 20,226 fans that braved a game-time tem perature of 100 degrees and watched Lopez continue his dominance of the Mariners.

"He was outstanding." Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He commanded his fastball, he threw strikes. He threw strikes early in the count and he threw them all night. I couldn't ask for a better outing."

Lopez out-dueled longtime Orioles nemesis Jamie Moyer, pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings and allowing four hits. He extended his scoreless stretch against the Mariners to 16 1/3 innings before Byrdak retired Ichiro Suzuki for the last out of the eighth and Ray worked a perfect ninth for his 27th save.

The Orioles (49-59 ) got RBI hits from Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis to beat Moyer for just the fourth time in his 31 games against them.

If Lopez (8-11 ) had pitched like this a little more frequently this year, he likely wouldn't have been on the mound last night in an Orioles uniform. The Orioles shopped the right-hander, but after finding several interested parties early, they couldn't pull off a deal for the pitcher before Monday afternoon's non-waiver trade deadline.

It's still possible that they could move Lopez if he passes through waivers. But an effort like last night's could make that difficult, even with experienced starting pitching at a premium. With Adam Loewen and Hayden Penn poised to join the rotation next season, Lopez, who will be a free agent after the 2007 sea son, could be the odd man out.

Such matters don't concern Lopez, who sees enough time to turn a disappointing season around.

"One of my best starts of the year, and it was the right time, when I needed it." Lopez said. '"I've been saying that I wasn't worried about a trade. I was just worried about pitching good."

With Lopez holding a tenuous 1-0 lead, the Orioles tacked on a run in the seventh on Markakis" RBI double. After an intentional walk to Fernando Tatis, Markakis, who entered the game lead ing all major leaguers with a .430 average since June 28, laced Moyer's pitch into the left-center-field gap, the ball one-hopping into the stands with Corey Patterson scoring.

"I had to [make adjustments]." said Markakis, who also made two good catches in right field, prompting Lopez to say that he owes the rookie dinner. "The first two at-bats, he had me roll over the ball. In that last at-bat I was just looking to stay back and drive the ball the other way.

Moyer was pulled after Markakis" hit. With the Orioles having runners at second and third with one out, Seattle manager Mike Hargrove then used two pitchers to escape with any fur ther damage. Moyer went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks.

"He's been doing it for 15 years." Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said of Moyer. "You just sit over in the dugout and say, "How does he do it?" He's pretty good at what he does."

The Orioles should know because few pitchers have dominated them like Moyer has. The crafty 43 -year-old pitcher, who was making his 507 th start of his career last night, entered the game with an 18-3 record with a 2.99 ERA in 30 games (28 starts) against the Orioles.

His .857 winning percentage was the highest in major league history among pitchers with 15 or more decisions against the Orioles. Only Roger Clemens (22) and Andy Pettitte (20) have more wins against the Orioles among active pitchers.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Roberts led off with a single and moved to second when right fielder Suzuki bobbled the ball. With Mora up, Roberts stole third for his 27th steal of the season. He then scored when Mora dumped a single into center field.

That would have been enough for Lopez. He ended the first three innings with a strikeout and didn't give up a hit until Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre bounced a single up the middle with two outs in the fourth. Roberts got to the ball, but his throw sailed over the head of first baseman Kevin Millar.

In late May at Safeco Field against the Mariners, Lopez broke a seven -game losing streak and got his first win since Opening Day by holding the Mariners to two hits and no runs over 7 1/3 innings in the Orioles" 2-0 victory. In that game, he allowed a first- inning single to Ibanez and then retired the next 18 batters before Richie Sexson's two-out single in the seventh.

Last night, he retired 23 of the 27 batters he faced, allowing only one base runner to reach second base.

"[The organization] knows what to expect from me." Lopez said. "It's been a tough year for me. This is not Rodrigo Lopez. I won't give up at any time. There is two months to go. I want to finish hard. This was a good start to finishing the season."


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