BALTIMORE (AP) -- Finishing in third place in the American League East isn't a
hollow accomplishment to the Toronto Blue Jays.
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 12½ games
and moved past the Orioles for third place. This victory gave
Toronto a 2½-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.''
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
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.