- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001


BALTIMORE There are coincidences, and then there are those events that just make you shake your head and wonder if some higher power is really in control.

Jason Johnson might have been left pondering such philosophical quandaries last night after he and the Baltimore Orioles were beaten by the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-0, before 43,606 at Camden Yards.

Johnson, the hard-luck loser despite a strong pitching performance, threw his second career complete game and first nine-inning effort. His previous complete-game? June 26, at SkyDome, in a loss to the Blue Jays.

Toronto's starting pitcher that night? Chris Carpenter, who gave up five hits over 7-2/3 innings. Last night's winning pitcher? Carpenter, who gave up five hits over 7 innings and won for the first time since (go figure) June 26 against the Orioles.

Deja vu, anyone?

"I don't look at it as similar at all," Johnson said. "It's the same team who cares? I got a complete game against the same team big deal. We still lost."

Just as he did on that late June evening, left-hander Dan Plesac came in to relieve Carpenter. And until Toronto added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth, thus negating any save situation, closer Billy Koch was warming up and would have pitched the ninth, just as he did in that previous game.

Both Carpenter (8-11) and Plesac benefited from three key double plays, as Baltimore once again struggled to convert with runners in scoring position.

With the bases loaded and one out in the third, Carpenter got Orioles right fielder Chris Richard to ground into a 3-6-3 double play on the first pitch he saw. One inning later, Tony Batista came to the plate with two on and no outs and promptly grounded the first pitch he saw right at shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who started a 6-4-3 double play.

Richard again hit into an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play in the eighth, this time against Plesac.

That made a loser out of Johnson (10-9), who lost his third straight start despite the first nine-inning complete game of his career.

"We had chances to score runs and just didn't," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "That's the bottom line. We never got the key base hit."

The Blue Jays got to the Baltimore staff leader for two runs in the second on three base hits, capped by Darrin Fletcher's RBI double off the right-field wall. Johnson surrendered a hit in each of the next six innings, but was not scored upon again until the eighth, when Raul Mondesi drove in Shannon Stewart from first base on a hit-and-run single up the middle.

Note Before the game, the Orioles placed outfielder Mike Kinkade on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder contusion, the result of an awkward slide into third base Thursday night at Tampa Bay. Defensively gifted outfielder Luis Matos, a candidate for the starting center field job before suffering a dislocated left shoulder in spring training, was recalled from Class AA Bowie and was due to be in uniform for last night's game. The 22-year-old should see significant playing time over the last month of the season.

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