- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

BOSTON The Baltimore Orioles had little trouble putting men on base last night against Darren Oliver. In fact, they had at least one hit in each of the first seven innings off the Boston Red Sox left-hander.
They just couldn't do anything once they got men on base, and that's why their 4-0 loss at Fenway Park was so demoralizing.
"We hit the ball well; we got eight hits. We just couldn't get anything going," said manager Mike Hargrove, whose team lost for the first time in five games and failed to reach the .500 mark for the first time since it opened the year 1-1. "You have to give credit to their defense and to the guy who was on the mound for the other team. It wasn't that we were swinging at bad pitches, or overswinging, or trying to do too much. The guy just pitched a very good ballgame."
How good? Oliver's eight-hit shutout was his first in nearly three years and the first by a Red Sox left-hander since Frank Viola shut out the Chicago White Sox on April 18, 1993.
Still, the Orioles had plenty of chances to score off Oliver and to take advantage of a strong performance by their own starter: right-hander Calvin Maduro, who allowed three earned runs over seven-plus innings and retired 16 straight batters at one point.
But every time Baltimore managed to put someone on base, the next batter seemed to ground into a double play or failed to move the runner over against Oliver (3-1).
Three key situations stood out at the end of the game, perhaps none more glaring than the Orioles' first scoring opportunity of the night.
Shortstop Melvin Mora led off the game with a double down the left-field line, and it appeared as though Baltimore might take an early lead for the fifth straight night. But No.2 hitter Gary Matthews Jr., starting against the left-hander in place of Chris Singleton, didn't move Hairston anywhere and couldn't even put the ball in play. He struck out on four pitches, including a huge swing for the fences on strike two.
"You're going to have bad at-bats," said Matthews, who was 0-for-4 and failed to hit the ball past the pitcher's mound. "Things are going to happen."
Stuck on second with one out, Mora then tried to make something happen by breaking for third, only to be gunned down by Doug Mirabelli. David Segui grounded harmlessly to shortstop, and the Orioles had squandered the opportunity.
"Obviously, Melvin leading the game off with a double, and not being able to advance him and get him in hurt," Hargrove said. "But certainly the ballgame didn't turn on that."
The Orioles had other chances, most notably in the fifth and seventh innings, when they followed up leadoff singles with Brook Fordyce and Tony Batista hitting into double plays.
"You have very few opportunities [in a ballgame]," Hargrove said, "and you need to capitalize on them when you get them."
The Red Sox, did make the most of their rare scoring opportunities, such as in the bottom of the first, when leadoff hitter Johnny Damon reached on Mora's throwing error and then easily stole second off backup catcher Fordyce.
Placed in the exact same situation as Matthews (runner on second, no outs), Boston No.2-hitter Jose Offerman came through by pushing a grounder to first and moving Damon to third. Nomar Garciaparra followed with a double to deep center field, scoring Damon, and Manny Ramirez drove in another run with a single to right.
"You've got to hit your spots every single time against the Red Sox," Maduro said. "You cannot make mistakes with this team."
That was all the Red Sox needed on this night, which was fortunate for the American League East leaders, because Maduro was absolutely outstanding after the troublesome first inning. Two more runners reached in the second Damon on a single, Rey Sanchez on Batista's first error of the season but Maduro responded by retiring 16 straight batters over the next 5⅓ innings.
With his team only trailing 2-0, Hargrove let Maduro start the eighth. But Sanchez led off with a shot over the Green Monster, the diminutive second baseman's first homer since April 12, 2000, against the Orioles a span of 1,094 at-bats. And when Damon followed with a single up the middle, Hargrove had no choice but to pull Maduro (1-3) and leave him with the tag of hard-luck loser.
"He threw real well tonight," Matthews Jr. said of Maduro. "We just didn't give him a chance."

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