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Baysox closer Ray earns call-up to O's


Chris Ray, Bowie's record-setting closer, has been sensational, and it hasn't gone unnoticed by the Orioles, who are calling him up to the big leagues today.

Ray, who set a Baysox team record for consecutive saves in a season with 15 while throwing 96-98 mph, got the news over the weekend.

In 32 2/3 innings, Ray has a 1.10 ERA with 37 strikeouts and only six walks and 14 hits. Opponents have been batting .131 against him in the Double-A Eastern League.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander, who was taken in the third round by the Orioles in 2003, broke the Baysox record for consecutive saves in a season on Thursday in a 6-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators. He pitched a scoreless inning in Saturday night's 2-1 win over Portland in 14 innings.

When asked what Ray needed to do at the major league level after being so successful in the minors, David Stockstill, the Orioles director of minor league operations, said, "You've got to keep working on what allowed you to be so good. If you are called up, there has to be room ... to improve. Some hitters will let you know what has to be done. You have to keep looking at different parts to improve."

Triple-A Ottawa

Infielder Bernie Castro and right-handed pitcher John Maine are among the leaders in the International League for batting and pitching.

Castro, who turns 26 on July 14, is the IL's eighth-leading hitter at .325 (74-for-228), is fourth in runs scored with 42 and tied for sixth in stolen bases with 14.

Maine, 24, is 5-4, but is tied for fifth in the IL in strikeouts (61), is 12th in ERA (3.57) and second in innings pitched (81 1/3 ).

Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie was 4-for-12 with two doubles and two RBIs in his rehabilitation with the Lynx.

A 6-5 loss to Columbus last week set two franchise records for longevity - most innings (17) and playing time (4:56).

The Lynx also tied a franchise record for runs scored in an inning (nine) in a 10-4 rout of the Durham Bulls.

Double-A Bowie

Scout night at Bowie on Friday resulted in a record 1,400 tickets sold to scouts and a record 350 tents camped in the outfield after a 9-7 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs in front of 7,782 fans.

Joey Hammond led the Baysox with three hits and four RBIs. He was batting .280 going into yesterday's game with the Sea Dogs and the Baysox were 31-30 with three straight wins in the Eastern League.

Outfielder Phil Bergeron is hitting .324 (35-for-108) in 27 games for the Baysox. Bergeron, who has 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored, had a nine-game hitting streak end last week.

Tripper Johnson continues to lead the Baysox (who have 160 or more at-bats) in hitting at .288 (62-for-215), runs scored (26), triples (three), homers (five) and RBIs (32).

Woody Cliffords is second in RBIs with 23.

Cory Morris, a 6-2, 190-pound, 26-year-old right-hander, is 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA and leads the club in strikeouts with 65 in 56 2/3 innings, but also leads in walks with 32.

Single-A Frederick

Branden Florence, who signed with the Orioles on June 2, has been on a roll for the Keys. Florence hit three-run homers on consecutive days to help the Keys (31-31) extend their longest winning streak of the season to four games.

After returning to the Keys after his brief stint with the Orioles, outfielder Jeff Fiorentino has gone 3-for-23 to watch his average slip 26 points from .305 to .279 (39-for-140).

Mario Delgado still leads the Keys in batting at .342 (69-for-202) with 10 homers and 32 RBIs while shortstop Nate Spears keeps improving at the plate. Spears, who was rated by Baseball America as the Orioles' best defensive infield prospect, is batting .309 (64-for-207) with 31 runs, 17 doubles and three triples.

Single-A Delmarva

No hitters over .300 and no pitchers over .500 spells trouble on the Eastern Shore.

After losing their only .300 hitter in infielder Peter Maestrales to the Kansas City Royals in the deal for outfielder Eli Marrero, the Shorebirds are reeling.

With three wins in their past 11 games, the Shorebirds have fallen to 28-36.

Jake Duncan is providing a bright side with his .299 (43-for-144) average. Duncan is fourth in runs scored with 26 and has seven doubles and two triples.

Orioles farm report

Three up

Wearing Black Senators jerseys on their fourth annual Negro League (Saturday) Night in Bowie, the Baysox made it eight in a row by beating Portland.

Beau Hale, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2000 who has been recovering from arm and shoulder injuries causing him to miss two seasons, returned to pitch in relief for the Keys last week.

Walter Young and Midre Cummings had five hits each in a 17-inning loss to Columbus to tie the Lynx record for most hits in a game.

Three down

Baysox left-hander Eric DuBose gave up five earned runs on seven straight hits in the first inning of a 5-3 loss to Harrisburg last Tuesday.

The main reason the Buffalo Bisons (39-24) lead the Lynx (31-29) in the International League's North Division is because they are much better at home - 24-12 to the Lynx's 14-11.

After coming within a point of batting .300, Keys outfielder Nick Markakis went 5-for-23 last week to slip eight points to .291.On deck

Bowie pitching coach Larry McCall has ordered his relievers to adopt, name and take care of a plant in the garden they are growing on the hill adjacent to the bullpen. It's reminiscent of the Earl Weaver and Pat Santarone tomato growing days at Memorial Stadium.

Maryland spotlight

Travis Ezi

Position: Outfielder

Size: 6 feet, 175 pounds

Age: 23

Hometown: Baltimore

High school: Southwestern

Pro team: Single-A Brevard County of the Florida State League, Milwaukee Brewers

Drafted: 2000 12th round by the Dodgers, 357th pick overall.

Record: .265 average (26-for-98), 16 runs, four doubles, six triples, one homer, 11 RBIs and six stolen bases.

Skinny: After setting state records for batting average (.711) and slugging percentage (1.577) at Southwestern, Ezi was taken by the Dodgers in the 2000 draft. The switch-hitting Ezi is currently leading off and playing center field for the last-place Manatees of the Single-A Florida State League.

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