BOWIE -- In his six starts with the Orioles this season, Sid Fernandez has not pitched beyond the fifth inning, and he has not won a game.
Fernandez's seventh start, a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Bowie yesterday, was no different.
With one exception -- he pitched well. In five innings, Fernandez struck out six, allowed two hits and two runs -- one unearned and the other dubious.
His performance impressed farm director Syd Thrift. "Those hits really weren't hits. He didn't give up any runs as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Fernandez left with the game tied 2-2 -- the Baysox lost to the Canton-Akron Indians, 6-2, before 7,687 at Prince George's County Stadium -- but he was pleased.
Placed on the 15-day disabled list June 7 with a sore left collarbone, Fernandez said he pitched pain-free and could come off the disabled as early as tomorrow. He does not plan on another start in Bowie.
But he could be pitching for the Baysox for several weeks; Orioles manager Phil Regan has said he'd like to see Fernandez FTC work six or seven innings.
Fernandez struggled with his control in the first inning. He walked the leadoff hitter, Damian Jackson, who stole second and third, then scored on a two-out pop-up that should have been caught by second baseman Jose Millares.
The pop-up was ruled a hit and the run was charged to Fernandez.
Part of the blame rested with Fernandez. It took him 23 pitches to get through the first inning, more than one-quarter of his 80-pitch limit.
"I was trying to find a rhythm," Fernandez said. "I found it."
But the key for Fernandez, Thrift said, was changing speeds and throwing his breaking ball for strikes.
Fernandez did that in the second and third innings, retiring Canton-Akron 1-2-3 on 10 pitches in each inning. Fernandez got out of the fourth by throwing only nine.
His fifth and final inning was little more adventuresome.
Bowie third baseman Kim Batiste booted a leadoff grounder by Canton-Akron's Chad Townsend. A wild pitch and an infield single sent Townsend to third. He scored on a double-play groundout.
The run tied the game at 2. Fernandez left after striking out designated hitter Pat Bryant to end the inning.
Fernandez threw 66 pitches, 39 strikes and 27 balls. His one-earned-run, two-hit effort was much better than his major-league record (0-3, 8.10) this season.
Fernandez cannot wait to improve on it -- getting a victory, getting out of the fifth inning and getting back with the Orioles.
"With 12 years in the big leagues, it's hard to get up for Double-A ball," he said.