- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000


BALTIMORE It doesn't matter which league the Baltimore Orioles play against; they just don't score runs when Mike Mussina is on the mound.

In the last interleague game of the season, with a chance to complete a three-game sweep, the Orioles managed to provide Mussina with a big fat zero.

Florida Marlins starter Jesus Sanchez pitched the first complete game of his career, and it turned out to be a shutout. Sanchez allowed just eight hits as the Marlins beat the Orioles 7-0 before 38,828 last night at Camden Yards.

Sanchez threw 113 pitches, 66 for strikes. Sanchez, who's 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last three starts, struck out five and didn't walk a batter.

"Today was the best I have thrown this year," Sanchez said. "It was my first shutout since the minor leagues."

Despite the loss the third time Baltimore has been shut out this season the Orioles (40-52) took two of three games from the Marlins and ended interleague play 7-11 against the National League East. Tonight the Orioles host division rival Boston Red Sox in a two-game series that concludes an eight-game homestand.

The fourth-place Orioles are an enigma, at least when Mussina (6-9) is on the mound. The Orioles have scored 67 runs in Mussina's 21 starts this year, an average of 3.2 a game the second-lowest run support for any pitcher. In their other 71 games, the Orioles are averaging 5.6 runs.

Last night, he allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings.

Mussina has a career record of 142-75 (.654), the fourth-highest winning percentage in baseball history among pitchers with at least 200 career decisions. It's also the second-highest winning percentage among active pitchers with 90 or more victories behind Boston's Pedro Martinez (116-53, .686).

"We got shut out, that's the story," said Mussina, who asked to leave the game after the seventh inning.

That didn't matter to the Marlins, who tagged the Orioles ace for three runs and five hits in the second inning.

Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee opened the inning with a sharp single to center. Kevin Millar, the Marlins' designated hitter, doubled down the line in left to drive in Lee for a 1-0 lead.

Marlins third baseman Dave Berg pushed Millar to third when he grounded out to Orioles first baseman Will Clark, but Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez sent a flare to shallow center field to score Millar and make it 2-0.

With one out and Gonzalez on first, Marlins catcher Mike Redmond lashed an opposite-field single to right. Luis Castillo then lined a single to left to score Gonzalez and give the Marlins a 3-0 lead. That was the only damage against Mussina, however.

"Mike came off the field and said he didn't have anything left. That's the reason why we took him out of the game," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "He still looked like he had good stuff. A tired Moose can still do a pretty good job. A tired pitcher on the mound, and you are asking for trouble."

That's what the Orioles got when Darren Holmes replaced Mussina in the eighth. Florida (47-46) made sure the game was over with two-run home runs by Preston Wilson and Millar off Holmes for a 7-0 lead. Holmes pitched one inning and allowed four runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out two.

After the second inning, Mussina settled down. He faced the minimum six batters the next two innings, enticed Millar to hit into an inning-ending double play in the third and retired the side in order in the fourth.

But Sanchez (6-7) was equal to the task. The Marlins' left-hander kept the Orioles off-balance for the first six innings, allowing only four singles. Albert Belle, the Orioles' designated hitter, doubled off the right-field scoreboard in the seventh, but Sanchez escaped the threat.

"[Sanchez] rises to the occasion. Every time someone mentions he is not doing well, he throws a gem," Marlins manager John Boles said.

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