FREDERICK — FREDERICK -- Four pitchers rationed the young Frederick Keys to three hits and Durham spoiled their season opener, 4-0 last night before 3,145 chilled fans at Grove Stadium.
In their eight-year history, the Keys have lost four times in opening-day matchups with the Bulls -- all by shutouts.
"We looked like we were swinging swords out there," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles director of player development.
Frederick managed to get five runners into scoring position on a night when anything not hit solidly stung batters' hands.
The only Key to reach third, Lincoln Martin, tripled with two out in the seventh inning, but was stranded when Rick Short grounded out.
Rated the most talented Single-A team in the country by Baseball America, Durham got the only run it needed in the fourth inning when Wes Helms homered over the left-center wall against losing pitcher Scott Conner.
Meanwhile, starter Micah Bowie and relievers Kevin Millwood, Anthony Briggs and Kerry Lightenberg combined to strike out 14 Frederick batters.
"You're not going to score a whole lot of runs getting three hits and 14 punch-outs," said Keys manager Tim Blackwell.
The first-round draft choice of last year, Alvie Shepherd, made his first official appearance in the Orioles system, going three innings and allowing two earned runs.
He was not hit hard and didn't walk anyone, but was undermined by two errors, a passed ball, a stolen base and several bloop singles.
"That was not fun being out there in that cold wind," said Blackwell. "But the weather didn't have anything to do with the result.
"I'd like to think maybe we had some first-game jitters and some of the problems might be just getting familiar with our own park.
"And you have to give their guys credit for pitching well."
Pub Date: 4/06/96