O's frustration boils over

Payton and Mora nearly come to blows after loss

Blue Jays 5 Orioles 3

May 15, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

TORONTO -- The Orioles arrived at the Rogers Centre yesterday afternoon intent on putting Sunday's devastating defeat to the Boston Red Sox behind them. Instead, they watched another of their top relievers lose a game and two of their veteran position players nearly come to blows after it.

Troy Glaus hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Danys Baez in the eighth inning last night, sending the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-3 victory over the Orioles before 19,819. It was the Orioles' third straight loss, and the frustration level, which seemingly was at a season high when they blew a five-run ninth-inning lead to the Red Sox a day earlier, continued to soar outside the clubhouse after the game.

Angry that Melvin Mora took off for third with two outs in the ninth inning while he was at bat, Jay Payton, who made the game's final out, had words with the third baseman outside the dugout. The two were kept apart by third base coach Juan Samuel, but the argument continued outside the clubhouse as Mora and Payton needed to be restrained from going after each other.

"It's no big deal," Payton said. "We've got to learn to play the game the right way and just help each other out. It was a little out of hand, but nothing big -- nothing that can't be patched. We didn't lose on a base-running mistake. That's not why we lost the game. We lost the game as a team. ... It wasn't one individual mistake we made that cost us the game. [But] the way we lose games, we need to try to correct some of the stuff we've been doing."

Payton was distracted when Mora took off from second to third on Blue Jays closer Jeremy Accardo's 1-1 pitch. He took a called strike and then grounded out on the next pitch, ending the game. He reminded Mora that there was no reason for him to take off when the Orioles were still two runs down and he would have scored from second on a single anyway.

By taking the base -- it was ruled defensive indifference -- Mora had hoped that he would open a hole at third base for Payton to hit one through. The gesture was obviously unappreciated.

"It's my fault because I went over to third base and maybe his eyes were blinking because I was running," Mora said. "I made a mistake. ... I apologized to Jay after the game. It was a little incident on the field and we don't need that now."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said the argument was handled internally.

"I would think that's a dead point right now," he said. "It's not a big deal, really, when you get right down to it. We're together 162 ballgames and all of spring training. You probably have more fights with your wife."

After storming out of the clubhouse, Mora later re-entered and apologized to Payton. The two then hugged as several teammates stood nearby. The pair are longtime friends, having played together for the 1999 and 2000 New York Mets. This offseason, Mora encouraged the Orioles' front office to sign Payton, who was a free agent.

"I was surprised about that reaction because me and Jay have been friends for a long time," Mora said. "I know we were frustrated because we lost some games that we should win. I said, I made a mistake in that situation and he wasn't able to swing.

"Jay and I, we are grown men and we know how to take care of business. We've been in situations where we've been in playoffs together. We don't have a problem. This is an incident and I hope it don't happen anymore because we need people to be together."

Payton didn't single out Mora, but did acknowledge several times that the Orioles have to learn how to play the game the right way. He also didn't dispute that several recent tough losses may have contributed to the blow-up.

"We've just got to concentrate on getting better at that aspect and help each other," he said. "I know I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, and if I do, somebody can jump my stuff and let me know. We've got to get better. We can't keep losing games the way we've been losing them."

And to think, just hours earlier, the Orioles had vowed that their complete focus was on the Blue Jays and not on what happened less than 24 hours earlier at Fenway Park when the club blew a five-run ninth-inning lead for the first time in team history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Highlights of that game appeared on every television at one point before batting practice and one Oriole remarked, "I can't even watch this."

They went out and presented No. 1 starter Erik Bedard with an early 3-0 lead as Jay Gibbons hit a bases-empty home run off Tomo Ohka in the second inning and Nick Markakis hit a two-run shot in the third. But Bedard gave two back in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Jason Phillips and a bases-loaded walk to Frank Thomas.

The Blue Jays tied the game at 3 in the sixth on Glaus' RBI single off Bedard, who was solid for seven innings, allowing three earned runs. It was his fourth straight no-decision, and he is winless since April 18.

With the score still tied in the eighth, Baez issued a one-out walk to Thomas and then left a 1-0 fastball out and over the plate that Glaus hit into the second deck in left field.

"It was a mistake," said Baez, who allowed two earned runs on Sunday. "I was trying to be inside and get a ground ball, but I left the ball over the plate. It cost us the game."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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