Northern exposure

Toronto — Toronto - Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera sat quietly, head resting in his right hand as he stared into his locker after a crushing 7-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last night.

First baseman Kevin Millar went over to shortstop Freddie Bynum, offered a few words of encouragement and walked away.


Several other players sat half-dressed, dazed, checking text messages on their cell phones.

Silence and frustration, the end result in the big leagues when you're up by four runs in the seventh inning and can't hold on.


"It's the kind of game you can't lose. It's really hard to lose a game when you are winning going in the seventh by four or five runs," said catcher Ramon Hernandez, whose throwing error in the ninth helped complete Toronto's comeback before an announced 23,276 at Rogers Centre. Technically, the Orioles lost in the bottom of the ninth, when Alex Rios drew a walk from Jim Johnson (2-3), stole second and scampered to third after Hernandez's throw sailed into the outfield.

With two outs, Scott Rolen hit a routine grounder to Bynum, who had entered in the ninth after starter Brandon Fahey was lifted for a pinch hitter. The ball went through Bynum's legs, and Rios scored the game-winner.

"He booted it; that's all you can say," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

A dejected Bynum said: "If you watched the game, you saw what happened. There's no need to talk to me."

In actuality, the game was lost in a four-run Toronto seventh that was highlighted by Rios' three-run triple to left-center against reliever Dennis Sarfate.

Put into the key seventh-inning role this week because of injuries, Sarfate couldn't hold a 6-2 lead the Orioles had amassed for Cabrera, who left with two on and one out.

After the Rios' triple, Vernon Wells singled to deep shortstop to score Rios and tie the score at 6 against Sarfate.

"He was one pitch from getting out of it, so for the first time [in the seventh-inning role] it was OK," Trembley said. "But it wasn't what we needed."


The Jays had a chance to blow it open in the seventh - they sent 10 batters to the plate - but Chad Bradford got an inning-ending groundout with the bases loaded.

Although Cabrera wasn't sharp, he was good enough to leave with a four-run lead. But he blamed himself afterward.

"Because I was supposed to get out of that inning," he said.

The Orioles (44-44) have dropped four of their past five and are back to .500 for the first time since June 15.

It was the first time this season the Blue Jays (43-47) have rallied after trailing by four runs or more.

The game started well for the Orioles, who built a lead off Aubrey Huff's 18th homer and went up by four in the seventh on a Nick Markakis' two-run single.


But it ended with two critical errors, and a tough Orioles loss.

"It doesn't take rocket science to figure it out," Trembley said. "If you are going to give them five outs late in the ballgame, they are going to score runs and they are going to beat you, especially on the road."