Series: Game 1 of 4

Toronto leads 1-0 (as of 9/16)

Game 1: Monday, September 16
Toronto 2Final
Baltimore 0
Game 2: Tuesday, September 17
Toronto 4Final
Baltimore 10
Game 3: Wednesday, September 18
Toronto 2Final
Baltimore 1
Game 4: Thursday, September 19
Toronto 9Final
Baltimore 3

Blue Jays 2

(69-81, 33-42 away)

Orioles 0

(66-83, 33-38 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 16, 2002

    Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland 

    123456789 R H E
    TOR 000001001 2 - -
    BAL 000000000 0 - -

    W: P. Walker (9-4)

    L: S. Ponson (7-7)

    S: K. Escobar (34)

    Walker tosses four-hit ball for seven innings

    BALTIMORE (AP) -- Finishing in third place in the American League East isn't a hollow accomplishment to the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Pete Walker pitched four-hit ball for seven innings, and Josh Phelps homered and drove in two runs as the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Monday night.

    Phelps hit a two-out run-scoring single in the sixth inning and added his 15th homer in the ninth to help Toronto win for the seventh time in eight games.

    ''It's important for us to finish strong. We realized that when we had a chance to catch Baltimore,'' Phelps said. ''If we finish in third place and we can finish above .500 for the second half, and play hard and finish strong, then we can take that into the next year and spring training.''

    The Orioles, who had won two of three during a weekend series in Boston, were denied their first successive victories since Aug. 22-23. Baltimore, which has lost 20 of 23, was shut out for the 14th time this season.

    Since losing to the Orioles on Aug. 23 -- the night Baltimore evened its record at 63-63 -- the Blue Jays have made up 12 games and moved past the Orioles for third place. This victory gave Toronto a 2-game lead over Baltimore.

    ''I don't know if important is the right word, but we're certainly moving in the direction we want to move in,'' Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. ''It's a good indicator. ... It's like climbing another rung on the ladder.''

    Walker (9-4) walked two and struck out four. Cliff Politte pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Kelvim Escobar worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 34th save. The Blue Jays have five shutouts this year.

    Orioles starter Sidney Ponson (7-7) allowed six hits, walked two and struck out four in his third complete game of the season. But he was undone by three consecutive two-out singles in the sixth.

    Vernon Wells started the rally by snapping a career-worst 0-for-26 drought. He moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Carlos Delgado and scored when Phelps' hard-hit grounder down the line glanced off the glove of third baseman Tony Batista.

    Since coming off the disabled list Sept. 1 after being sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, Ponson is 1-2 with a 2.31 ERA.

    ''It was good to see Sidney go out and do what he did -- and still show that he had the velocity on his fastball,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.

    Baltimore's best threat came in the seventh, when Jay Gibbons drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Melvin Mora's one-out single to center. But Walker got pinch-hitter Luis Lopez to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

    ''There's a lot of pressure when you're not doing good,'' Ponson said. ''Sometimes, everybody tries to do a little more than they can.''

    Game notes

    Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby went 0-for-3 and is in an 0-for-18 skid. ... Mora returned to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension stemming from a July 28 brawl in Boston. ... In honor of former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, who died last Wednesday at age 69, the Orioles lit a portion of the right-field scoreboard with No. 19 throughout the game. ... In his three complete games this season, Ponson is 0-3 with a 1.73 ERA.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press