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Third Is Not the Charm for O's

Mazzilli: Bad Inning Won't Hurt Bauer's Bid to Make Rotation : Cardinals 5, Orioles 1

By Justin Harper
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, April 1, 2005; Page D09

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 31 -- Hoping for a statement game to solidify his chances at the fifth spot in the Orioles' pitching rotation, Rick Bauer had one rough inning, which helped St. Louis to a 5-1 victory over Baltimore on Thursday at SBC Bricktown Ballpark.

"I feel like I threw great," said Bauer. "I have no qualms. It was one bad inning where a couple of balls were just a foot too far to get to."

Cardinals' Yadier Molina scores on a sacrifice fly by Albert Pujols as Orioles catcher Javy Lopez awaits the throw. A crowd of 11,516 watched the game. (Sue Ogrocki -- AP)

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The inning in question was the bottom of the third, when the Cardinals scored all five of their runs. Bauer came back out and completed the fourth, finishing with a line of four innings, seven hits and five runs (all earned). The 28-year-old also walked two. All told, the Cardinals sent 10 hitters to the plate in that third inning.

With Rodrigo Lopez set to start the Orioles' opener Monday against Oakland at Camden Yards and Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Sidney Ponson holding down the 2-3-4 spots in the pitching rotation, Bauer sought a strong showing in Oklahoma City to strengthen his bid for the fifth slot.

According to Manager Lee Mazzilli, Bauer did nothing to hinder his progress.

"He threw the ball real good today," said Mazzilli. "I liked his velocity. I liked the split he threw well. The runs weren't indicative of how he threw."

The game was Bauer's eighth Grapefruit League outing and third start. He finishes spring training with an 0-3 record and an ERA over 5.00.

"I don't look at numbers," Mazzilli said. "It's how he pitches."

Another pitcher in the mix for that fifth spot is left-hander Bruce Chen, who originally was slated to play Thursday but was moved into the starting role for tonight's game at 8. Chen has yet to yield an earned run in 9 2/3 innings in five games. Chen's longest outing of the spring came on March 10, when he threw three innings in relief against the New York Mets.

The third player vying for the rotation, Eric DuBose, had been scheduled to start today against the Cardinals. Instead, he relieved Bauer to open the fifth. The 28-year-old left-hander went two innings, allowing two hits with a walk and a strikeout. Todd Williams came on in the bottom of the seventh.

Despite the five runs, Bauer said he thinks he improved his stock with the showing.

"I don't think I took a step back by any means," Bauer said. "That's a good hitting team. I came back and threw strong in the fourth. I'd have liked to have gone out for the fifth."

St. Louis's Chris Carpenter got the win, going five innings, allowing three hits and one run. The Cardinals were paced offensively by the heart of their lineup -- Albert Pujols (2 for 2), Jim Edmonds (2 for 3) and Scott Rolen (2 for 3).

Baltimore's lone run was unearned and came in the top of the fourth. After Sammy Sosa's second strikeout, Rafael Palmeiro walked then went to second when Rolen booted a Javy Lopez grounder to third. Enrique Wilson brought Palmeiro around with a two-out single to center.

Sosa, who was cheered loudly during pregame activities, was half-heartedly booed at each at-bat by the pro-Cardinals crowd of 11,516 -- the largest to watch an Orioles game this spring. Sosa went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and hit into a double play before leaving the game following the fifth inning.

Starting at second base in place of Brian Roberts, who sat out the game after fouling a ball off his right shin Wednesday in a 3-for-3 outing, Wilson was 1 for 4 with the lone RBI. Larry Bigbie was 1 for 3 and Jay Gibbons was 1 for 2.

The Orioles dropped to 13-11 in the Grapefruit League. St. Louis, which went 2-1-1 in four spring games against Baltimore, is 15-10.

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