O's come up short again


On a night of missed opportunities, perhaps it was fitting that the Orioles' last out came on a too-short sacrifice fly.

Melvin Mora was thrown out at the plate trying to score and the Toronto Blue Jays prevailed, 5-3, in front of 15,803 last night at Camden Yards.

With their old teammate looming in the Blue Jays' bullpen, the Orioles knew that their best chance to tie the game was at hand earlier. They had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning and a once-three-run deficit down to one.

When the ball left pinch hitter Jeff Conine's bat, it appeared destined for right field. However, Toronto second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo ranged to his left, dove to stop the ball and then picked it up to throw out Conine at first. Conine promptly removed his helmet and spiked it to the ground, his frustration palpable.

The Orioles were rebuked again in the eighth, and B.J. Ryan came in for the second straight night and got out of a jam in the ninth on Mora's out.

It was another missed opportunity for the Orioles (27-33), who after Monday night'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 in consecutive games.

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, 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.

The Orioles cut the Blue Jays' lead to 4-3 in the seventh on Miguel Tejada's RBI single and then a bases-loaded walk by Kevin Millar after a 10-pitch at-bat against Blue Jays reliever Justin Speier. Millar fouled off four straight 3-2 pitches before Speier walked him with an outside pitch. But left-hander Scott Schoeneweis got Conine, with the help of Alfonzo and first baseman Lyle Overbay, who scooped the throw.

The Blue Jays extended their lead to 4-1 with two runs off Todd Williams in the seventh after Mora's throwing error put men on second and third with no outs. Frank Catalanotto had an RBI single and Troy Glaus an RBI fielder's choice.

Toronto added an insurance run off John Halama in the ninth. With a group of fans behind home plate waving dollar bills at Ryan, the lefty, who bolted the Orioles this offseason for a far more lucrative deal with Toronto, allowed a one-out single to Mora and walked Tejada. But then Hernandez popped out and Mora was thrown out at the plate by Aaron Hill.

Benson clearly didn't have his usual command. He loaded the bases in the second inning on a hit batsman, a single and a walk. He then got the second out, striking out Alex Rios, the American League's second-leading hitter. But then he bounced a breaking ball to Catalanotto that got past catcher Ramon Hernandez and went to the backstop with the bases loaded. Shea Hillenbrand scored easily.

Toronto took advantage of another Benson wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead in the third. Vernon Wells singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored on Overbay's RBI groundout.


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