BOSTON - The matchups appeared to favor the Orioles each time third baseman Melvin Mora stepped to the plate yesterday. Their leading hitter with runners in scoring position at .355, he batted five times with a chance to put his stamp on the game. And five times, he failed to produce in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Mora ended the first, third, fifth and seventh and ninth innings, stranding 11 men in the process.
Before yesterday, Mora was hitting .406 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
"Never seen it happen," manager Dave Trembley said. "As they say, two words describe it: That's baseball."
Brian Roberts began the game with a single and Aubrey Huff walked with two outs. Mora tapped the ball in front of the plate, and catcher Jason Varitek threw him out.
The Oriole left the bases loaded in the fifth when Mora sent a sharp grounder up the middle that pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka fielded. Walks to Adam Jones and Markakis in the seventh also were wasted, and Mora left the tying run at third base in the ninth by lining out.
"I don't have nothing to say," Mora said. "I [messed] up. Five at-bats. I left guys on base. I [messed] up."
Checking on Liz
Before rookie Radhames Liz could change into his uniform yesterday, he was summoned into Trembley's office by pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Trembley and Kranitz wanted make sure Liz's confidence had not been shattered after he allowed eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in Saturday night's 12-1 loss.
"You want to talk about how things are going and just reassure him that he's OK," Kranitz said. "His stuff was good, but you've got to do two things: You've got to pick out the positives from the game and learn from the negatives. His head was up. He wasn't shying away from anything."
Liz kept trying to work both sides of the plate during Boston's seven-run third. He would fall behind in the count and throw a fastball down the middle.
"This was maybe the worst game I ever had, even in the minor leagues," Liz said. "I think I really came with good stuff. My slider and my changeup were good, but I think in the third inning I may have tried to do too much. I started trying to do the pitch too perfect and trying to hit the corners. I think I should've stayed with what I was doing, but everything in the game made me go that way."
Part of Trembley's talk with Liz centered on "etiquette," with reminders that he needs to wait at his locker after games for the media to interview him.
Liz left the clubhouse Saturday night before reporters exited Trembley's office, a practiced frowned upon by the manager.
"I may not like having to come out here all the time and talk every day, but it's an obligation, a responsibility that you have, and you have to take the bitter with the sweet," Trembley said. "You've got to be able to handle it with some dignity, and I think that's how you get respect."
Huff back at 1st
Huff started at first base for the third time in the past four games. Kevin Millar was not in the lineup after serving as the designated hitter on the other two occasions.
"I think Huff has played very well for us," Trembley said. "I go by the same premise that you can't count on the same guy all the time. You have to allow other people opportunities to play out there.
"I don't look at it that one's better than the other defensively. I look at trying to do what we can do to win the darned game."