- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2001


BALTIMORE The Baltimore Orioles' first rookie pitcher fared well in his first major league start.Their second hardly had the same success.
The Orioles' Josh Towers pitched seven strong innings against one of the more powerful teams in the American League and left with the game tied. However, the Texas Rangers burned reliever Chad Paronto for four runs in the eighth and took a 6-3 victory yesterday before 37,090 at Camden Yards.
Baltimore's bid to win its ninth game of the homestand which would have marked the most victories during a homestand in 15 seasons and rise one game over .500 fell short. But the Orioles (24-25) still enter a nine-game road trip having won eight of 11 contests and in the thick of the AL East race.
With ace Pat Hentgen placed on the disabled list Friday, Towers got the call to make his first start. It came against Texas, which led the majors with 76 home runs and the AL in total bases entering the game. But the thin right-hander kept Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez and Co. scoreless through six innings with a nice mix of pitches.
Towers threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the first 24 batters he faced and had pitches nipping the corners all afternoon. Towers, whose fastballs rarely hit more than 90 mph on the radar gun, did not walk a batter.
"[Getting ahead in the count] factors a lot into it," Towers said. "It changes [the hitters'] approach a little bit they start swinging early in the count, a lot of first-pitch swinging."
Towers pitched with a blister on the tip of the middle finger on his throwing hand. The blister split open early in the game, and he briefly needed attention from the Orioles' staff in the sixth, but Towers stayed in the game.
Said catcher Brook Fordyce: "You couldn't ask for a better start. He had good location, mixed speeds and kept a good lineup off balance. I'll take that start every time."
For a pitcher that relies heavily on getting ahead of hitters, it was not surprising that two batters Towers got behind in the count Frank Catalanotto and Andres Galarraga in the seventh hit back-to-back homers to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
"Those were really the only two bad pitches he made the whole day," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Josh pitched absolutely tremendous. It was about as good as I've seen him."
Hargrove added that it is likely Towers will get another start when his next turn in the rotation comes, probably Saturday at Oakland.
Trailing 2-1, the Orioles' best chance to generate a big inning came in the seventh, when they loaded the bases with no outs. Melvin Mora lifted a sacrifice fly to left, but Mike Kinkade grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
In the eighth, Mike Bordick's throwing error and a four-pitch walk to Alex Rodriguez set things up for the Rangers against Paronto (1-3). Rafael Palmeiro, still a fan favorite at Camden Yards three seasons after leaving the team, rapped a single to load the bases. Gabe Kapler then stroked a single past Cal Ripken at third, scoring two and chasing Paronto.
"It's just the way the game goes," Paronto said. "I'm more upset at the four-pitch walk than anything."
Chuck McElroy came on but couldn't hold the Rangers down. He yielded two more run-scoring singles, with both runs charged to Paronto, for a 6-2 Rangers lead. David Segui's ninth-inning homer made for the final margin.

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