Melvin Mora said he didn't hear third base coach Tom Trebelhorn telling him to stay put. All he saw was Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Aaron Hill ranging back to left field and Mora figured that if Hill was going to catch Ramon Hernandez's shallow pop-up, he'd be too off balance to throw him out at the plate.
With the Orioles trailing by two runs, Mora's run meant nothing. The Oriole on second, Luis Matos, was the tying run, the one that if scored, would have meant, at the very worst, extra innings and a blown save by their former teammate, B.J. Ryan.
But thinking only that he "had a great chance to score," Mora took off. He was thrown out by several steps, the gaffe the final out of the Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays last night in front of 15,803 at Camden Yards.
"I didn't hear nothing. I just hear the people making noise," said Mora, accepting responsibility for the play. "That's the one play that I have to read. Especially with [Kevin] Millar coming to the plate - he's dangerous. I should have been more sure to come home."
Instead of Millar coming up with men on second and third and two outs, the Orioles (27-33) were forced to swallow their second straight loss. They scored two runs in the seventh to cut a three-run deficit to one, but Toronto second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo made a diving stop on Jeff Conine's grounder and threw him out to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
Then in the ninth after Ryan struck out Brian Roberts on three pitches, Mora singled and Miguel Tejada walked. Mora and Matos, Tejada's pinch runner, then pulled off a double steal, giving the Orioles two shots with men on second and third to tie the game. But as it turns out, they only got one.
Ryan, who has four of his 15 saves against the Orioles and has only blown one all season, pumped his fist after home plate umpire Gerry Davis punched Mora out at the plate.
"Basically, that run really means nothing to us, but he made a great double steal there to get us in position to win or tie," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Like I said, I think he just misread the ball and thought he had an easy score. It turned out not to be a very good play."
Trebelhorn was surprised when he saw Mora take off.
"I said, 'You can't go on that one,'" he said. "The next thing you know, he took off. If he didn't hear me, that's unfortunate."
It was another missed opportunity for the Orioles, who after Monday's win, looked at the next two nights and pondered the possibilities. Their No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers - Erik Bedard and Kris Benson - were facing unproven rookies. But a night after Bedard was unable to distinguish himself from Ty Taubenheim, Benson pitched well, but not as good as 24-year-old Casey Janssen (5-3), who held the Orioles to one run in six innings and beat them for the first time in three tries this season.
Now, the Orioles will have to get past former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay tonight behind their own rookie, Adam Loewen, to preserve a four-game series split and a 5-5 homestand.
Fighting his command early, Benson allowed a run in the second with a wild pitch, and set up another score in the third with a wild pitch. After that, he pitched well.
"Personally, I felt I got better as the game went on," said Benson (6-5), who is winless in his past four starts. "Just command-wise, I didn't have the feel for it early in the game. The other starter pitched better and he won that ballgame."