Orioles 2

(12-11, 7-5 away)

Mets 1

(9-16, 4-7 home)

    1:10 PM ET, March 24, 2007

    Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, Florida 

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    BAL 000010010 2 - -
    NYM 000000010 1 - -

    Orioles (ss) 2, Mets (ss) 1

    Associated Press

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- The New York Mets sent Chan Ho Park to the bullpen Saturday, cutting down the competition for their No. 5 starter.

    The move appears to clear the way for top prospect Mike Pelfrey to claim the final spot in the rotation -- though manager Willie Randolph indicated that Aaron Sele still has a chance.

    Park pitched three perfect innings Saturday before he was pulled from New York's 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in a split-squad game. He threw 27 pitches and struck out two.

    Though the Mets made the decision Friday night, the team did not let Park know until after his outing in order to keep his pregame routine consistent, Randolph said.

    The 33-year-old Park said he was disappointed by the decision and wasn't sure where to go from here.

    "I came here looking for a job as a starter, that's for sure," said Park, who agreed to a $600,000, one-year contract with the Mets in the offseason. "They asked me to be a reliever, and obviously I'm unhappy. I have to figure out what's best for the team."

    Park will pitch again on Monday, and the team hopes he can throw three times next week. He said he was not sure how his body would respond to the change.

    "I don't know," he said. "I feel more comfortable as a starter."

    The Mets haven't even announced who their No. 3 and No. 4 starters will be, but those spots are expected to go to John Maine and Oliver Perez. Both have pitched well this spring.

    The 23-year-old Pelfrey was the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Wichita State. He has given up only two earned runs in 14 innings this spring.

    Sele, 36, is in camp on a minor league contract and has a 6.11 ERA in 17 2-3 innings.

    Both are right-handed.

    "We still have some competition for the fifth starter spot," Randolph said. "We're just talking about Chan Ho and where he is with us right now, and right now he'll be in the bullpen."

    Park met with Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and general manager Omar Minaya for about 30 minutes after the game.

    "This doesn't mean that at some point he's not going to be a starter," Minaya said. "But this is the direction we're going right now."

    Minaya said Park accepted the assignment and would do what's best for the team.

    Park might pitch back-to-back games next week and will probably be held to one inning Monday, Randolph said.

    "I like his stuff," the manager said. "Right now, I want to see how he looks there."

    In Park's previous outing, he gave up seven runs -- four earned -- and three homers in three innings. Entering Saturday's game, he had an 8.68 ERA in 9 1-3 Grapefruit League innings.

    "I'm a little confused now," Park said. "Yes, I had a bad outing last game. I feel better today. I feel much better as a pitcher. I feel like I'm going to have a great season."

    Park still hopes for a shot to start at some point this season.

    "I don't think they're going to keep me in the bullpen all year," Park said. "But if they ask me to be in (the) bullpen all year, I don't know. I'd have to think about it."

    Hayden Penn had a solid outing for the Orioles. He went four innings without giving up a run. Penn yielded a hit and walked four. He got into a few jams, but was able to escape.

    "In this lineup that they had today, you see there's no weakness," Penn said. "Everybody can flat out rake, so it felt good to get out of a couple jams. You know you're going to have to make those pitches to get those guys out because you know you're going to need to during the season."

    Penn said his endurance is good.

    "I was surprised because I thought I might have been a little fatigued," he said. "But overall, I felt fine."

    Jon Knott homered for Baltimore.

    Game notes

    Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez flew to New York for an MRI on his right shoulder. He is not expected to be ready by April 15, Minaya said. ... 1B Carlos Delgado's wife gave birth to the couple's son, Carlos Antonio, on Friday night.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press