'Pen no relief to O's Lopez


Right-hander hopes his first outing there since 2004 will also be his last



BOSTON -- Rodrigo Lopez's relief appearance Friday night was his first since June of 2004, and while the Orioles right-hander had success out of the bullpen earlier in his career, he said he would not be comfortable pitching from there regularly at this point.

"My mind is in the starting rotation and that's what I want to do," Lopez said yesterday. "As long as I get a chance, I want to get ready to start games. During the time my team needed me in the bullpen and I was able to help them, but my main thing here is doing my job as a starter."

Manager Sam Perlozzo said Lopez will start Thursday in New York, as Adam Loewen - who pitched just 2 1/3 innings Friday - will throw Wednesday. Lopez wasn't dazzling Friday, allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings, but his work allowed the Orioles to rest their regular relievers.

Perlozzo said moving Lopez to the bullpen permanently would be more of an "organizational" decision than his alone, but he added he doesn't expect to take the veteran out of the rotation in the near future.

"I would hate to say that Rodrigo is not a starter," Perlozzo said. "He did do really well out of the 'pen, but the problem there becomes how much you want to pay a guy coming out of the bullpen."

Running into the record book

With Brian Roberts' third-inning stolen base Friday night, he and Corey Patterson became the first Orioles teammates to each steal 30 bases in a season.

Perlozzo said the team has relied more on the running game this season because of a lack of production in the middle of the lineup. Patterson, who has 37, added that stealing bases shouldn't be limited to the leadoff hitter.

"Obviously, when you're at the top of the lineup, you get more opportunities because you get more at-bats and you're on base more, but I don't look at it like that," said Patterson, who has batted leadoff just twice. "I'm sure if Brian batted a little lower in the order, for example, he wouldn't tell you any different. Me and him, we're still going to work to our strengths. I kind of view it as the same thing as batting anywhere in the lineup. You still have the same objective: Be aggressive on the basepaths."

Right at home

He may not be the most widely recognized player at his position, but Nick Markakis has a higher batting average as a right fielder this season than any other player in the majors with at least 200 at-bats.

Markakis is batting .362 in 83 games in right, where he has started 52 of the Orioles' past 68 games. He hit just .176 in 102 at-bats playing center and right, and has also felt more comfortable defensively in right.

"When we came into camp we were told that right field is his best position, but we had a right fielder so we had to experiment around and see if we couldn't get him to play some other positions," Perlozzo said. "But once Jay [Gibbons] got hurt, [Markakis] went out and played his best defense at his best position and it just became obvious that he's a pretty darn good right fielder."

Around the horn

To clear a roster spot for Kris Benson, the Orioles optioned right-handed reliever Julio Manon to Triple-A Ottawa. In four appearances since being recalled July 31, Manon did not allow an earned run. Entering yesterday's game, the Orioles had the lowest batting average against Red Sox starter Jason Johnson of any American League team he's faced in his career. A former Oriole, Johnson surrendered seven earned runs.


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