Mora's error upsets plan

Orioles Notebook

Restful day off turns to somber one after his game-turning miscue Friday

September 03, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

OAKLAND, Calif. -- For 6 1/2 innings on Friday night at McAfee Coliseum, everything was going exactly as Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo hoped it would. Melvin Mora already had three hits and had made a run-saving defensive play at third base.

Perlozzo had decided a day earlier that Mora would sit the second game of the series, so the Orioles manager desperately wanted to send the struggling third baseman into his rare day off feeling good about himself. That's how it was playing out until Mora's throwing error prolonged the seventh inning for Frank Thomas to hit the game-winning two-run homer in the Oakland Athletics' 5-4 win.

"You have to make all the plays and I didn't make all the plays," said Mora, taking accountability for the loss, calling his errant throw on Milton Bradley's grounder an easy play. "I gave a chance for the big guy to come to home plate."

The usually upbeat Mora was downtrodden after the game, prompting Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez to approach the third baseman to offer supportive words. It had been a breakthrough offensive performance for the two-time All-Star who hit his 14th home run and also added an RBI double. He had only four extra-base hits in August.

"I am fine," Mora said. "I will be fine all the time with my offense. I am not going to be worried about my offense."

Penn happy to be back

Orioles pitching prospect Hayden Penn arrived at the stadium, where he'll make his season debut today, during the middle innings of the Orioles' 6-5 victory over Oakland yesterday. His season debut was supposed to be more than three months ago, but Penn came down with appendicitis the night before his scheduled start against the Seattle Mariners.

He's been on the mend since, building up his arm strength and conditioning and waiting for a call-up.

"It was tough," he said on missing out on his opportunity. "It made me do a lot of thinking. I was frustrated for a while, bitter, but over the last month, I've felt like it was a good thing for me. Now I feel like I'm strong. I'm where I need to be to the point that I got my innings in and my pitch count up. Now I feel like I can go out and give a strong effort [and] give my team a chance to win every five days."

Penn, who was 7-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Ottawa this year, said several strong outings over the past month will help erase the bad memories of the 2006 season.

"You can never anticipate how long it's going to take to get back from something like that, but the bottom line is I'm here now," the 21-year-old said. "I'm ready to show I can pitch here and compete for a job next year. Regardless of what happened, I'm here, and now I've got to take advantage of it."

Newhan providing lift

When the Orioles activated David Newhan last Tuesday, Perlozzo said that he was glad to have the versatile outfielder back, but the tough part would be finding Newhan at-bats. Later that night, starting center fielder Corey Patterson sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder, bringing Newhan into the game. Newhan hasn't been out of the lineup since.

"It's unbelievable," said Newhan, who missed 4 1/2 months after breaking his right fibula on April 8. "[My injury] kind of opened the door for Corey and Nick [Markakis] and they both have had wonderful years. Then, I come back and two innings later, Corey got hurt. I am just glad everything feels good with my leg. It's gratifying to get an opportunity."

Newhan is 6-for-20 with four RBIs since being activated.

Injuries getting to Perlozzo

Traditionally at this time of the season when rosters are allowed to expand, managers have several options when filling out their lineup cards. Perlozzo, however, bemoaned not having that luxury before yesterday's game.

Patterson is likely out until Friday and it appears that Hernandez, who didn't start his third straight game because of a strained muscle on the right side, is still a couple of days away from returning. Backup catcher Chris Widger (pinched nerve) is also not close to 100 percent.jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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