- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001


TORONTO (AP) Alex Gonzalez managed to keep his focus at least when he was at the plate.Gonzalez hit two homers, including a tiebreaking, three-run shot in the eighth inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays restarted their season with an 8-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night.
"They were enjoyable moments. I had a few smiles, but as I was going back on the field I caught myself thinking about what was going on in the world," Gonzalez said. "It was a constant battle to focus, but hopefully, as the games go on, it will start getting better."
The Orioles lost their ninth in a row, and have dropped 15 of 16.
Homer Bush singled and third baseman Cal Ripken's error allowed Josh Phelps to reach base before Gonzalez hit a 3-2 pitch off Jorge Julio (1-1) to give Toronto an 8-5 lead.
Gonzalez, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI, hit his 15th and career-high 16th homers in his second multihomer game this season and the fourth of his career.
"It was nice to see the fans and the players be able to go out for a few hours and take their minds off things," Gonzalez said.
His homer in the first gave Toronto a 1-0 lead.
"It was a real spooky first inning," Toronto manager Buck Martinez said. "I don't think anybody felt like they had a right to holler on the bench, but then Alex hit the home run and guys started to get into it."
Dan Plesac (4-4), who got two outs in the eighth, was the winner, while Billy Koch pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 37 opportunities.
Ripken tied it at 5 in the eighth with his 13th home run off Paul Quantrill. Ripken, who will retire at the end of the season, left the dugout and tipped his helmet while receiving a standing ovation.
"When they tied it up everybody realized it was back to normal, and we were in a dog fight," Martinez said.
Security was tightened at SkyDome because of last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Police were at each gate, bags were checked, and even Toronto players had their cars searched.
"It's a whole new world, and it's unfortunate that we have people in this world that make things this way," Quantrill said.
Baltimore's Brady Anderson was touched by the pre-game ceremonies that included the singing of God Bless America.
"It feels good to know that another country feels for America," Anderson said.
Brad Fullmer, Felipe Lopez and Raul Mondesi also homered for Toronto.
Gonzalez gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the first and Fullmer and Lopez hit consecutive homers in the second.
Jeff Conine's RBI single in the sixth brought the Orioles within 3-2 and Toronto starter Kelvim Escobar walked Larry Bigbie with the bases loaded to force in the tying run.
Escobar then left the game with tightness in his right forearm. It's second time this season he has been forced to leave a game because of numbness in his arm.
"It's not painful. It feels weak," Escobar said. "I can't get a grip on the ball."
Mondesi led off the bottom half of the inning with his 25th homer.
Pinch-hitter Tony Fernandez added an RBI single to give Toronto a 5-3 lead. Fernandez set a club record with his 12th pinch hit of the season.
Jerry Hairston narrowed the lead to 5-4 with a homer off Pedro Borbon in the seventh.
Note Comcast SportsNet yesterday completed its revised broadcast schedule for the Baltimore Orioles' games in October. The Bethesda-based cable outlet will air all of Baltimore's contests the final week of Oct. 1-6, except for the day game against Boston on Oct. 5. That game will air on WBDC-TV (Channel 50) and WNUV-TV (Channel 54).
Games on Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 against the Yankees that were originally schedule to air jointly on Comcast, WBDC and WNUV will now be broadcast just on the two over-the-air stations.
National broadcast plans for Cal Ripken's finale on Oct. 6 remain unsettled, but it seems likely that some outlet of Fox will pick up the game.
* Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this article.

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