The pitching-starved Baltimore Orioles likely will pursue Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, a free agent after this season. Baltimore officials already are discussing the possibility of signing Lowe, 31, who was 14-12 this season with a 5.42 ERA. The Orioles hope Lowe's sub-par 2004 season has brought down his asking price. The team is encouraged with their good relationship with Lowe's agent, Scott Boras.

Lowe allowed two runs in 51/3 innings in Sunday's 6-4 Boston win. But Lowe faltered this season as the Red Sox' number three starter. His best season was in 2002 when he was 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA, finishing third in the American League Cy Young Award race. Lowe said he's unsure whether he'll return to Boston.

"It's really not up to me," Lowe said. "That's for the front office to decide. I think we'll know pretty quick. But not having the opportunity to start [in the playoffs prior to Curt Schilling's injury], I don't think I'll be too high on their list." . . .

The Orioles will interview Tripp Norton and David Stockstill, both members of the organization, for the vacant minor league director of operations position Tuesday. Norton was the assistant minor league director who was named the interim director when Darrell "Doc" Rodgers was fired at the end of the season. Stockstill is the team's minor league field and hitting instructor.

Jim Beattie, Baltimore's executive vice president of baseball operations, said the team is trying to set up interviews with other candidates for later in the week. . . .

The Red Sox didn't decide to announce Schilling as their Game 6 starter until 1:40 a.m. Monday morning, after they had won a dramatic Game 4 with a two-run home run by David Ortiz. Schilling threw a bullpen session on Sunday, his second in three days prior to Sunday's game.

Tavarez Breaks Hand

In what must now be considered an epidemic, yet another pitcher involved in this postseason has broken his non-throwing hand during a tantrum that followed a poor performance. However, in this case, the St. Louis Cardinals were hopeful reliever Julian Tavarez would not miss any action.

Tavarez, the Cardinals' top right-handed setup man, broke two bones in his left hand following the seventh inning of Sunday's Game 5 of the NLCS, during which he gave up the go-ahead homer to Houston's Carlos Beltran. Tavarez broke the bones when he slammed his hand into the dugout phone out of frustration.

The Cardinals' medical staff fashioned a custom splint for Tavarez to wear in his glove, and he tested it during a pregame bullpen session before Monday night's Game 5. The splint was designed to immobilize his fourth and fifth fingers and the outside part of his hand, where the breaks occurred.

"Medically, it's safe for him to play," said George A. Paletta Jr., the Cardinals' head physician. "The only question is whether he can receive the ball from the catcher and field his position."

The loss of Tavarez would be a big loss for the Cardinals' formidable bullpen, which already is without top lefty Steve Kline, who has a torn tendon in the index finger of his throwing hand.

Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa was remarkably understanding about Tavarez's rampage, saying, "I'm not saying that I pat him on the back for going out of control, but I would pat him on the back for caring enough to get upset."

Also Monday, the Astros apologized to the Cardinals for showing a replay of Tavarez's tantrum on the stadium video screen Sunday.

New York Yankees starter Kevin Brown missed three weeks in September after a similar incident, in which he broke bones in his non-throwing hand after punching a wall following a disappointing outing. He returned to the Yankees in the last week of the regular season and is on their playoff roster.

Staff writer Dave Sheinin contributed to this report from Houston.