- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2001


BOSTON First the good news: The Baltimore Orioles got four hits and even scored a run off Hideo Nomo last night.
Now the bad news: The well-oiled machine that was the Orioles' pitching staff over the last week had a large wrench jammed into one of its gears.
Six days after getting no-hit by Nomo, Baltimore managed to make a slight dent into the Boston right-hander. Not that it mattered much when the Red Sox were launching balls into every crevice of Fenway Park during a 10-1 thrashing of the Orioles before 27,664.
Sidney Ponson was the victim, serving up eight runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings and becoming the first Baltimore starter not to last five innings this season.
The fact that he was trying to outpitch the unhittable Nomo for the second straight outing didn't help matters.
"From the start, I tried to be perfect," Ponson said. "I mean, the guy threw a no-hitter against me. I don't know if that played a role today, but I wanted to give us a chance to win, and I didn't do it. You can say I lost the game completely."
The buzz around town entering the game centered around Nomo's home debut after last week's heroics. Seeking to join Johnny Vander Meer as the only pitchers to throw consecutive no-hitters, Nomo (2-0) wasn't as sharp but was nearly as effective, especially with his trademark split-finger fastball. He gave up one run on four hits, with four walks and four strikeouts, before giving way to Tim Wakefield, who earned a save by pitching three scoreless innings.
"The two times I've seen him pitch against us, he's been very good," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Tonight he didn't have the command of his pitches that he had at our place last week. But he made pitches when he had to. That split is a great equalizer. That's a very difficult pitch to hit, and he threw some good ones."
Melvin Mora ended any hope of back-to-back no-hitters when he beat out a pretty bunt down the third-base line with two outs in the second. Chris Richard was the first player to get a clean hit off Nomo, sending a solid single to right in the fourth.
But the only other batter to get good wood on the Japanese right-hander was Mike Bordick, whose sixth-inning double down the left-field line brought Brady Anderson home with the only Baltimore run of the game.
It was yet another futile offensive showing from the Orioles, who have scored 15 runs in seven games.
"We have better hitters than we've shown, and we know that," said first baseman David Segui, one of the fortunate few to get a hit off Nomo last night. "Anyone who's going to judge a hitter after 20 at-bats doesn't know a thing about baseball.
"Baseball's weird. There are days when you're locked in, and then the next night you feel like you've never hit in your life."
The Red Sox got to Ponson early and often, reversing their fortunes from last Wednesday, when the right-hander gave up four hits and struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings yet was overshadowed by Nomo's brilliance.
On this night, Ponson (0-2) reverted to his old self, surrendering three quick runs in the bottom of the second. Jason Varitek doubled off the Green Monster in left field, then advanced to third when shortstop Bordick booted Shea Hillenbrand's grounder. Brian Daubach, who now can officially be considered an Orioles killer, sent a double down the left-field line to score Varitek.
A groundout by Mike Lansing and a sacrifice fly by Trot Nixon brought home two more runs, but it was only a precursor of things to come.
Varitek led off the fourth with another double off the wall and once again scored along with Hillenbrand via Daubach's bat. This time the Boston first baseman homered over the wall in left, his third against Ponson in five at-bats this year.
A couple of walks later and Ponson was on his way to the showers, having thrown 92 pitches in less than four innings of work.
"He certainly wasn't on his game tonight," Hargrove said. "He looked a little bit out of rhythm, even as early as the first inning. He had a couple of bloop base hits in the second inning, then the error, and he just never could get back on track. He'll be better next time."
Even with Ponson out of the game, the rampage continued. Manny Ramirez drove in two with a base hit up the middle off reliever Calvin Maduro, and Varitek (batting for the second time in the inning) brought in one more run with a groundout to make it 9-0.
Daubach added yet another homer, his fourth of the year (all against Baltimore), just for good measure. His blast down the right-field line off Maduro put Boston up by 10 runs and drew a prolonged ovation from the crowd at Fenway, which saw its string of 61 straight sellouts come to an end.
The Orioles, meanwhile, are left wondering if they will find their offense before they return home this weekend.
"I obviously don't like it, and I hope it changes tomorrow, but if we start panicking and worrying this early, then it's going to be a long, long summer," Hargrove said. "We've got a lot of baseball to play, and we feel like we have good hitters on our ballclub. We just have to give them time and room to find themselves."

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