Until three weeks ago, Mike Bell was considered a career reliever. Last night against Erie, the left-hander showed the SeaWolves -- and the Baltimore Orioles organization -- another trait: versatility.

The fifth-year pro, with 177 minor league relief appearances, dominated first-place Erie, taking a three-hit shutout into the ninth before succumbing to the heat in a 7-2 win in a Class AA Eastern League game at Prince George's Stadium.

Bell (6-1) benefited from a seven-run, seventh-inning explosion by the Baysox, capped by Rick Short's three-run homer. He gave up two runs on five hits with a season-high eight strikeouts before leaving with one out in the ninth.

"I was just trying to catch them off-speed," Bell said. "I was getting ahead of them, changing speeds and keeping the ball down."

Acquired last spring by the Orioles after being released by the Expos, Bell has won 13 of 18 decisions.

"This just shows them that I can do another role," Bell said. "I don't see myself as a starting pitcher down the road, but I think this showed people what I can do."

The win snapped a string of five losses in six games for Bowie, which moved within 2 1/2 games of Erie in the Southern Division.

The Baysox (46-37) had scoring chances in each of the first three innings but couldn't cash in, leaving a runner in scoring position each time.

With the game scoreless in the seventh, however, the Baysox finally broke through. They loaded the bases with none out when Jayson Werth was hit and Brian Rust and Carlos Casimiro followed with singles.

Darrell Dent then drew a walk off SeaWolves starter Seth Etherton, forcing in the first run. Richard Paz's single extended the lead to 3-0, and Augie Ojeda's double made it 4-0. Short then hit a three-run homer to extend the lead to 7-0.