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Orioles Gain Split With Cards

Chen Wins Job In Rotation, Goes Five Solid Innings: Orioles 3, Cardinals 1

By Justin Harper
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, April 2, 2005; Page D08

OKLAHOMA CITY, April 1 -- The big picture will show Bruce Chen won the fifth spot in Baltimore's pitching rotation on Friday. The smaller version belongs to Luis Matos.

Matos accounted for the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning with an RBI triple that, coupled with a throwing error, allowed Matos to come around as well. The result was Baltimore's 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the second of two consecutive games at SBC Bricktown Ballpark.

Luis Matos is greeted in the Baltimore dugout after tripling home the lead run and scoring in the ninth. The O's first run came on a Jay Gibbons double. (Sue Ogrocki -- AP)

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As a sellout crowd of 13,066 watched, Chen went five strong innings, yielding one hit and no runs, striking out three and walking one.

Although Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli didn't make the announcement public until after the game, Chen knew before heading to the hill Friday that the fifth spot was his.

"I'm very happy [with the decision]," Chen said. "I came into spring training prepared to work real hard. And I knew if I did that, things would work out well."

Chen, who was in a battle with Rick Bauer and Eric DuBose for the fifth spot, got the start in place of DuBose. Chen originally was slated to pitch in relief of Bauer on Thursday night. Bauer, who yielded seven hits and five runs in three innings, and DuBose both pitched in Thursday's 5-1 loss to St. Louis.

Earlier in the afternoon, Mazzilli would not confirm a decision had been made. And on Thursday both Mazzilli and Bauer said the pitcher threw well.

Regardless, the job is Chen's, while Bauer will vie for a bullpen spot.

"Chen is my fifth starter," Mazzilli said moments after the game. "I told him before the game. . . . He's learned how to pitch. His sequence is good. He's had good selection."

Chen's outing was by far his best, and longest, of the spring. Prior to Friday, Chen had thrown 9 2/3 innings in five appearances. His ERA remains at zero. His longest outing of the spring had been three innings on March 10.

"I just wanted to go out and keep going the way I have," Chen said when asked if knowing before the game helped him pitch more relaxed. "I've been using all my pitches. I just wanted to do what I've done all spring training."

Which is to keep teams off the board. Chen has thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings this spring.

"That's what he can do," Mazzilli said.

As for Friday's outcome, Jay Gibbons and Chris Gomez went 2 for 4, combining for half of the Orioles' eight hits. Sammy Sosa was 1 for 4 with a run scored; Matos was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.

The game was tied at 1 until the top of the ninth, when Matos ripped a shot into the gap in right center off closer Jason Isringhausen. That drove in David Newhan, who was running for Gibbons. Matos was headed for a triple when the throw from the outfield hit him in the back, allowing him to cruise home.

Baltimore opened the scoring in the top of the second. After Sosa singled, Gibbons's double brought him around.

St. Louis answered in the sixth, taking advantage of recent teammate Steve Kline's pitching woes. Kline, who played for the Cardinals last year, hit Larry Walker with a pitch. Walker advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Scott Rolen's two-out single to left.

St. Louis's Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 and was 4 for 6 with two RBI in the two-game set against the Orioles.

Isringhausen, one of five Cardinals pitchers, took the loss for St. Louis, which was held to five hits.

B.J. Ryan, the fourth of Baltimore's six pitchers, got the win with one inning of work. John Parrish got the save.

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