RED SOX 7, ORIOLES 4, 7 INN.

The Baltimore Sun

THEY WERE STRIKES ...

Before the game, Orioles manager Dave Trembley acknowledged the obvious and said that yesterday's outing was important for Jon Leicester, who was making his first start of the spring in his bid to win the team's fifth starter spot. Facing all but one member of the Boston Red Sox's projected Opening Day lineup, Leicester didn't do anything to really help his cause, except throw a lot of strikes. The only problem was two of those strikes were redirected a long way. Manny Ramirez hit a two-run home run to left field in the first inning. The ball traveled an estimated 450 feet onto the back field at City of Palms Park. J.D. Drew then hit a bases-empty homer to left-center in the second. Leicester allowed three earned runs on four hits in three innings.

STAYING HOT

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora insists that he has had better Grapefruit League seasons than the one he's having now, but that's hard to believe. Mora was 2-for-3 yesterday with a home run and two RBIs. He hit a bases-empty homer to left field off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the third inning and had an RBI single to right field in the sixth. He's hitting .483 this spring with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Mora credits work he did on his swing this offseason with Cesar Cedeno, a hitting coach for the Washington Nationals' Golf Coast team. Mora said he has been working with Cedeno since he was 15 years old.

SARFATE SLAMMED

Before yesterday, Dennis Sarfate, the hard-throwing reliever the Orioles acquired from the Houston Astros in the Miguel Tejada trade, hadn't allowed an earned run in five outings, further solidifying his spot in the Opening Day bullpen. However, he faced six Red Sox yesterday and retired only one. Sarfate allowed three hits, two of them RBI singles, and walked two. Orioles manager Dave Trembley removed him with the bases loaded and one out and brought in Lance Cormier, who induced an inning-ending double play from Dustin Pedroia.

ON DECK

The Orioles will play their fifth and final road game of the week this afternoon against the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Veteran right-hander Steve Trachsel will start.

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