BALTIMORE -- Brad Bergesen began the season pitching at the Triple-A level for the first time, uncertain if he would receive an invitation to pitch in the major leagues this season.
Now, as the Baltimore Orioles enter the All-Star break, Bergesen is the most consistent member of their starting rotation. The 23-year-old rookie owns a solid 3.54 ERA, leads the team in innings pitched and is tied for most wins.Bergesen took a shutout into the seventh inning Sunday, and Baltimore got a home run from Oscar Salazar in a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.Bergesen (6-3) gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA over his past nine starts."Bergesen sure had a great first half for us. I think he has established himself as a real nice story in the American League this year as a starting pitcher," manager Dave Trembley said. "It seems like every time he pitches he gives us a chance to win, and it was no different today."Not bad for a guy who last year split time between Class A and Double-A ball."The first half was such a huge learning experience," Bergesen said. "I'll take that as the positives and also reflect on the negatives to know what I need to do in the second half."Brian Roberts had two RBIs for the Orioles, who took two of three from Toronto. Baltimore has won six of its last nine series and trails the fourth-place Blue Jays by only three games in the AL East.Toronto has lost 12 of 15 and went 2-8 on a swing through Yankee Stadium, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Each of those 10 road games were decided by two runs or fewer."It was a terrible road trip for us. We've had worse, but this wasn't too good," said manager Cito Gaston, who returned to the helm after missing two games to attend the funeral of his sister.On May 18, Toronto was 27-14 and in first place. Now the Blue Jays are 44-46 and 11 games out."Obviously you expect more, and you want more, as a ballclub," outfielder Vernon Wells said. "I think this break comes at a good time. Guys can go home and relax and get away from the game for a couple of days. Hopefully when we get back to work we'll have a better second half."Bergesen took a 3-0 lead into the seventh, but was pulled after the Blue Jays used three hits and a sacrifice fly to get within a run.Danys Baez got the final out in the seventh, Jim Johnson worked the eighth and George Sherrill retired three straight to earn his 20th save.Bergesen outpitched fellow rookie Marc Rzepczynski (0-1), who allowed three runs and five hits over six innings in his second major league start.In his first outing, against Tampa Bay, the left-hander allowed one run and two hits in six innings."I think I was better last one," Rzepczynski said. "Today I didn't have my changeup at all."Because Bergesen was so good, Rzepczynski had little margin for error.After Wells popped out with the bases loaded to end the Toronto third, Baltimore took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half when Roberts doubled in a run and scored on Nick Markakis' single.Salazar's second homer of the season made it 3-0 in the sixth. Rzepczynski has surrendered only two homers in 100 innings this year, including his time in the minor leagues."One bad pitch, one bad slider to Salazar, and he took it out," Rzepczynski said.The Blue Jays got an RBI double from David Dellucci and a sacrifice fly by Marco Scutaro in the seventh. In the bottom half, Roberts singled in an unearned run after a throwing error by Scutaro at shortstop.
Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa left in the third inning with a mild concussion after being struck in the mask by a foul ball. Dale Scott took over at home as part of a three-man crew. ... Dellucci was 0 for 19 with Toronto before his double in the seventh. ... Toronto had four doubles to increase its major league-leading total to 200.