TORONTO - When his final pitch was popped up by Scott Rolen and hung lazily in the air before settling into the glove of right fielder Nick Markakis, Orioles pitcher Chris Waters thrust both arms skyward.
Exactly six weeks after his improbable major league debut in which he pitched eight shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels, Waters turned in a performance that, to him, was every bit as impressive. The rookie left-hander, 28, allowed just six base runners in a 2-0 shutout of the Toronto Blue Jays in front of an announced 25,746 at Rogers Centre.
"Both of them were a dream come true, for my debut to be as good as it was and for me to be able to complete that game today with a shutout," Waters said. "That's special."
The performance, coupled with Radhames Liz's eight shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, gave the Orioles (67-82) their first back-to-back quality starts since Aug. 8-9 and their first back-to-back victories since they won three straight Aug. 13-15.
"It does feel like it's that long, but we'll take it," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team got its only runs on an RBI double from Brian Roberts and a solo home run from Luke Scott. "I think it's a real positive thing to finish the season on the upswing. It's like I said about Liz, it gives you some incentive and some positive thoughts in your mind. It's always good to see what the possibilities are if you just do the basics."
The victory was marred by Melvin Mora's ejection in the third inning by plate umpire Rob Drake for arguing a called third strike. Before leaving for the dugout, Mora whipped his bat onto the field, an act that will surely get the attention of the commissioner's office. Mora said Drake called him stupid, an allegation the umpire denied.
"That's my reaction. If I did it wrong, I'm going to apologize for that," said Mora, who also said he has had a run-in with Drake in the past, which the umpire also denied. "But you know, a player gets suspended. My question is, who suspends the umpires? Nobody knows what he told me. He said that I was stupid."
Drake said he warned Mora three or four times that if he didn't go back to the dugout, he'd be thrown out of the game. "And then after he got ejected, I said, 'That was stupid,' meaning that was stupid for you to get ejected over this situation."
Mora watched from the clubhouse as Waters (3-3) set down the Blue Jays on 106 pitches in a performance similar to his gem against the Angels in his big league debut after toiling in the minors for nearly nine seasons. Since that dominant outing, Waters had just one quality start in seven appearances and had surrendered three earned runs or more in five straight starts.
"He looked very similar to when he was in Anaheim, just from the standpoint of his delivery, finish on his pitches, his arm was nice and loose," Trembley said. "He looked like he was in complete control from the first pitch of the game to the end."
Waters retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, allowed the leadoff man on in just one inning, and didn't permit a Blue Jay to reach second base until Travis Snider's one-out double in the eighth inning.
All-Star closer George Sherrill was ready in the bullpen in the ninth, but Trembley said Waters deserved the opportunity to finish it. And he did, retiring Rolen after Lyle Overbay had drawn a two-out walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
"Anytime I'm out there, I want to go all nine," Waters said. "Sometimes you don't have what you need to do it, but tonight was special."
Notes:: Toronto starter Shaun Marcum left in the third with right forearm numbness. ... Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate has a right distal clavicle fracture in his shoulder and will likely be shut down for the rest of the season. Sarfate, who suffered the injury in April when a car door slammed into his shoulder, is deciding whether to have surgery, though Trembley said it will not affect his status next year. ... Jeremy Guthrie, who was placed on the disabled list Monday with a right shoulder impingement, hopes to pitch in one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Orioles starting pitchers have thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings. A look at the team's past two starts:
Pitcher IP H R BB SO
Liz ....... 8 5 0 1 4
Waters 9 4 0 2 3