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Orioles win game, 9-5, but might lose Mora


TORONTO - The words from his second baseman brought some comfort to Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli, though not enough to keep him from sounding morose as he sat in his office last night. Not enough to keep him from appearing as though he lost a game.

The fear for Mazzilli was that he lost something much more important.

Melvin Mora limped off the field in the eighth inning after pulling up as he approached first base on a bouncer to shortstop. He felt his right hamstring grab, and it's possible that he'll go on the disabled list today, making a 9-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre seem insignificant.

"It's not good right now," Mazzilli said. "We'll see tomorrow and get a better read. I don't know how long it's going to be, but you're losing a pretty big bat."

Overhearing Mazzilli's conversation with bench coach Sam Perlozzo in the eighth, the tone so ominous, Brian Roberts leaned over and said, 'Maz, don't worry about it, we'll be OK. We'll get through it.'"

"That's the way he is," Mazzilli said. "That's the type of team we have."

Mora, hitting .300 after going 0-for-5, was relieved that the hamstring didn't pop.

"I knew right away something was wrong," he said. "I don't want to be out of the lineup, especially now."

Asked if this could be a DL situation, Mora said, "I pray to God no, but it hurts."

With the Boston Red Sox winning last night, the Orioles (42-28) remain two games ahead of them in the American League East, in large part because the bottom third of their order went 6-for-13 with eight RBIs.

Catcher Geronimo Gil homered twice and drove in three runs to provide a cushion for rookie reliever Chris Ray, who took over for starter Rodrigo Lopez after the fifth with the Orioles ahead 6-4. Eli Marrero homered, doubled twice and drove in three runs.

"We know what the middle of our lineup can do," Mazzilli said. "When you get production at the bottom, it takes a little pressure off the top."

One of the worst teams in baseball decided it no longer wanted Marrero. The proclamation came within two months. The hurt and confusion easily could have lasted a lot longer.

Marrero, designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals, has become a regular presence in the Orioles' lineup whenever the opposition starts a left-handed pitcher. This is where his value lies, and this is why a first-place club deemed him worthy of a trade.

Giving up little to acquire him - a 25-year-old, low Single-A player was the asking price - the Orioles received plenty from Marrero last night. His three RBIs came in the first four innings.

Marrero is batting .400 (8-for-20) against left-handers since the Orioles swapped infielder Pete Maestrales for him. Marrero had hits in both plate appearances against Blue Jays rookie Gustavo Chacin, and doubled in the sixth inning against left-handed reliever Scott Downs.

"He's swinging the bat well," Mazzilli said.

Five straight batters reached with two outs in the first, leading to five unearned runs. Marrero had a two-run double to keep the inning alive, and he launched a 2-0 pitch from Chacin into the second deck in left field leading off the fourth.

The trade occurred with Marrero in a 1-for-22 slump, his average with Kansas City down to .159.

After starting out 1-for-14 with the Orioles, Marrero has gone 7-for-11 in his past four games.

"He's doing exactly what we wanted," Mazzilli said.

Lopez (7-2) had a personal score to settle with the Blue Jays. He was 1-4 with a 6.80 ERA in 10 career games.

An early lead removed some of the burden.

Brian Roberts reached on an error by shortstop Russ Adams, and the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs. Jay Gibbons beat out a grounder to the right side, out-racing Chacin (6-5) to the bag, and Chris Gomez and Marrero each drove in two runs with hits to stake Lopez to a 5-0 lead.

"He hesitated a little," Gibbons said. "I'm not that fast."

Alex Rios hit his first career leadoff homer, and Adams added a three-run shot in the fifth. Gil allowed the Orioles to pull away in the later innings, giving them a good feeling that changed with Mora's injury.

"We've been doing this all year. Somebody goes down, somebody steps up," Roberts said. "The fact that we've had to battle through injuries makes you say, 'OK, let's go. But it's always going to hurt when you lose a player of that caliber."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site, time: Rogers Centre, Toronto, 7:07

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (5-6, 5.54) vs. Blue Jays' Pete Walker (2-0, 1.24)

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