There was no rest for the flawless.
The day after pitching a seven-inning perfect game in Trenton, N.J., for the Double-A Bowie Baysox, Rick Forney was "working the bucket."
"My teammates weren't going to pick me up," said Forney, who beat the Thunder, 8-0, Saturday. "No matter how well you do, you have to stick with the daily routine."
It is the responsibility of the previous day's starter to retrieve baseballs from fielders during batting practice via a bucket and make them available to the pitcher.
The Annapolis High graduate realized that he had something good going when a heckler started yelling at him from the stands during the fourth inning.
"He was screaming, 'Let's break up this bum's no-hitter,' " Forney said, "so I backed off the mound and looked at the scoreboard. I knew I hadn't walked anybody, so I said to myself, 'Let's give it a shot and see what happens.' "
Forney, named yesterday by Howe Sportsdata International as Minor League Pitcher of the Week, required some luck Saturday. In the sixth inning, Trenton's Joe Perona hit a wind-aided drive that Rob Lukachyk caught at the base of the left-field wall.
In the seventh, Justin Mashore hit a grounder past third that was barely foul, then Bowie's Scott McClain bobbled Mashore's grounder to third but caught the carom barehanded and barely threw him out.
The last out was Evan Pratte's grounder to first baseman Jack Voigt, who turned "a great play," Forney said. "He was in the right place at the right time. Then everything on the field went berserk."
Forney is 11-6 with a 4.61 ERA, thanks to a 4-1 July during which his forkball was working well and he retired 15, 10 and 14 batters in succession in previous starts. He has overcome an 0-4 May, when his ERA was above 6.00.
Buford gets the message
Three weeks ago, Orioles coach Don Buford had one message to deliver to son Damon at Triple-A Rochester: Get some hits.
"Nothing new in that," said Damon, who obviously listened.
Damon started a 15-game hitting streak -- longest by a Red Wing this year -- in which he batted .324 and increased his power production.
After an inside-the-park home run last weekend, he has 12 homers, only two fewer than he had in 400 previous pro games.
He is third in the International League with 24 stolen bases and has been caught only four times. The Baysox squeezed in five innings of the scheduled opener of a doubleheader against the Canton-Akron Indians last week before a tornado swept through the area.
Prince George's County Stadium was spared, but the twister knocked down the billboard at the new park's entrance.
This and that
Rochester's Mike Oquist earned his first pro save Saturday night, pitching two scoreless innings at Pawtucket. With Arthur Rhodes in Baltimore, Oquist probably will rejoin the starting rotation. . . . The Red Wings' Sherman Obando and Jeff Manto are tied for the International League lead with 20 home runs each. They are the first two Rochester players with 20 in the same season since Jim Traber (21) and Mike Hart (20) in 1988. Manto leads the league in RBIs. . . . Rochester, which committed errors in 12 straight games, fell to 11 games below .500 for the first time in two years. . . . Infielder T. R. Lewis, who hit .321 for the Red Wings, was sent to Bowie, where he is likely to play some outfield. Lewis missed two months with a fractured hand. First baseman Billy Owens was sent from Bowie to Frederick. . . . Scott Klingenbeck rejoined Bowie's active list in a start Saturday, giving up one run in two innings. He had an ailing elbow. . . . Joe Borowski became Bowie's closer when Armando Benitez went to the Orioles. . . . Bowie outfielder Clayton Byrne (.219) is disabled by a pulled groin. . . . The Baysox are 0-7 in extra innings. . . . Frederick closer Chris Lemp's scoreless string of 19 innings ended when he blew a save opportunity Saturday night. . . . Trovin Valdez, a 27th-round pick in 1993, averaged C run scored a game in his first 33 starts for the Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles. He had 15 steals.