Jays' Chacin Quiets Baltimore's Offense

Brian Roberts
The Orioles' Brian Roberts reacts after what he thought was a ball is called a strike in the third inning. (Gail Burton - AP)

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By Sean P. Flynn
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

BALTIMORE, Sept. 5 -- With two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Monday, 25-year-old rookie Walter Young entered the on-deck circle as a possible pinch hitter, the supposed future slugger of the Baltimore Orioles organization preparing to make his first major league appearance.

But 41-year-old veteran B.J. Surhoff flied out to end the game and Young left the field to debut another time. The Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, in a game that looked much more like their bleak recent past of seven straight sub-.500 seasons than of a bright future.

Sporting a lineup that had only one player younger than 28 on a beautiful Labor Day afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 22,123, the Orioles (64-73) lost for the 13th time in 17 games and fell to nine games under .500, matching their lowest point of the season.

For almost seven innings, Blue Jays rookie left-hander Gustavo Chacin (12-8) shut down Baltimore, outdueling Orioles starter Bruce Chen (11-9). After Chacin left the game, poor bullpen pitching and a collection of mistakes and bad bounces stifled the Orioles' chances for a rally.

"It wasn't a good day for that kind of stuff," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said of the team's luck. "And everybody we brought in couldn't seem to get anybody out."

Trailing 2-0 when Chacin left the game with one out in the seventh, the Orioles cut the deficit to 2-1 on a Surhoff pinch-hit groundout that scored Jay Gibbons. But in the eighth, Orioles lefty reliever Steve Kline faced four batters and allowed two hard-hit singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly by Orlando Hudson to make the score 3-1.

Righty Todd Williams relieved Kline to face Russ Johnson, who laced a line drive to right-center field as the runners at first and second base were on the move. Right fielder David Newhan, who entered the game as a pinch hitter an inning earlier, raced in to make a spectacular diving catch, then got up to fire the ball to try to throw out Eric Hinske, the runner who had left first base.

But because of the complexity of the play -- first baseman Gibbons was in the middle of the field to play cut-off man to a throw home; catcher Javy Lopez was guarding home plate; and Williams was backing up home plate -- no one was at first base to catch Newhan's throw. The ball rolled out of play into the Orioles dugout and Alex Rios was allowed to score the Blue Jays' fourth run.

"The runners were going, and I got up and didn't hear anything from anyone else, so I threw it," Newhan said. "I thought I had a play over there, at the very least someone going over there to stop it from rolling in the dugout."

In the ninth, another favorable bounce allowed the Blue Jays to pad their lead against reliever Tim Byrdak. With two outs, Gregg Zaun and Rios singled, and Hinske followed with another single to right, scoring Zaun from second. But Miguel Tejada's cut-off throw to get Rios out at third bounced off Rios's helmet into the stands, giving the Blue Jays their sixth run.

Down four runs going into in the ninth, the Orioles meekly went down in order to end the game.

Chacin, 24, one of the American League's top rookie pitchers this year, scattered four hits over 6 1/3 innings to earn his first win since July 31. Five days after he was tagged for five runs in a loss to the Orioles in Toronto, Chacin quieted the Orioles' lineup with his cut fastball, striking out five and walking one. He did not allow a runner past first until the seventh.

Chacin overshadowed a strong performance by Chen, who allowed two runs and five hits over six innings.

"Good pitching makes you sluggish, at least makes you look that way," Perlozzo said.

Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, the Orioles had runners at first and third and no outs after singles by Luis Matos and Brian Roberts, and Melvin Mora, who did not start the game because of an illness in his family, was pinch-hitting against lefty Scott Schoeneweis. But Roberts attempted a steal as Schoeneweis made a pick-off throw to first, and he was caught stealing at second. Matos scored the second run on the play, but the Orioles' attempt for a comeback was thwarted.

"I screwed up," Roberts said. "I was just trying to make something happen, and I made a mistake I shouldn't have."


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