Jon Leicester hadn't made a start in more than two years before joining the rotation Saturday. He's riding a two-game winning streak. Leicester threw 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits, walking three and striking out one. Bench coach Tom Trebelhorn, serving as manager during Dave Trembley's three-game suspension, removed Leicester after 83 pitches. Jim Hoey entered the game and needed one pitch to strand two runners and preserve a 2-0 lead.
John Lackey, a 16-game winner and Cy Young candidate, figured to mow down an Orioles lineup that was missing Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez, Melvin Mora and Corey Patterson - the last two because of injuries. But the Orioles scored twice in the second inning on consecutive doubles by Jay Payton and Scott Moore, and Tike Redman's single. They added a run in the sixth on singles by Aubrey Huff and Payton, and Moore's sacrifice fly.
The bullpen has been blamed for everything from losses to rain delays this season, but it was air-tight last night. Hoey retired all four batters he faced, allowing one ball out of the infield. Chad Bradford allowed a hit in the eighth after getting the first two outs, but Jamie Walker retired Garret Anderson to strand the runner. Walker also handled the ninth to pick up the save. Over the previous 21 games, Orioles relievers had an 11.08 ERA, but they preserved Leicester's win.
The Orioles open a three-game series tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays that also begins a three-city road trip - the last of the season. Left-hander Brian Burres becomes a starter again out of necessity. He has bounced between the bullpen and rotation. He has also allowed runs in his past seven appearances. Burres willl oppose rookie Jesse Litsch, who earned his first major league win in his first start, which came against the Orioles.