TORONTO (AP) — Melvin Mora would love to be an All-Star.
Mora homered, doubled and singled in his return to the Baltimore lineup and Sidney Ponson pitched another complete game as the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 last night.
Mora had not played since being hit in the right hand by a pitch from Atlanta’s Greg Maddux last Friday. After missing four games, Mora came back to go 3-for-5, raising his AL-leading average to .366, and scored three times.
“Every single guy wants be an All-Star. It’s something you look forward to because that’s why you play, to be in there,” Mora said.
Before the game, Orioles players voted on reserve players for the All-Star Game.
“I think I deserve it. I’ve been working myself hard throughout the first half. I hope I’ll be there,” he said.
Mora made outs in his first two times up.
“I was uncomfortable in the first two-bats. I lost my mechanics, so I went inside the clubhouse and looked at some video,” Mora said. “I’m glad my swing is back.”
Ponson (10-4) pitched his third complete game of the season and 21st of his career. He gave up 10 hits, walked none and struck out four.
The 26-year-old right-hander has won six of his last seven starts.
Ponson said himself, Mora and Jay Gibbons deserve to be All-Stars.
“If they call me, I’ll go. If they don’t, I have three days vacation,” Ponson said.
Gibbons drove in three runs for the Orioles, who have won two straight against the Blue Jays after losing their previous eight games against them.
A crowd of 37,248, the third-largest of the season, turned out at SkyDome after the Blue Jays offered $2 tickets in an effort to show that Toronto remains vibrant despite the SARS scare.
Fans ran onto the field on three separate occasions in the ninth inning. Blue Jays spokesman Mike Shaw said five fans received notices to appear in court to face trespassing charges. They are also banned from SkyDome.
“I hope they beat them,” Ponson said. “They know they are going to jail. They probably had one too many beers. They know they are going to get into trouble. I don’t know why they do it. They are slowing the game down. They always complain that games are too long, then you get these idiots running on the field,” he said.
Cory Lidle (10-5) allowed seven runs — six earned — on eight hits in a season-low 4⅓ innings.
“You look at their record and some people might say you’ve got a break, but I always have trouble with this team,” said Lidle, who is 2-3 against the Orioles in his career. “They match up well against me.”
Gibbons hit an RBI infield single off Lidle’s right foot in the first.
Jeff Conine and Gibbons hit consecutive RBI doubles in the fourth. Earlier in the inning, Baltimore’s Brian Roberts and Luis Matos collided with Toronto second baseman Orlando Hudson on consecutive plays at second base. All three stayed in the game.
Mora doubled in the fifth, advanced to third on shortstop Chris Woodward’s throwing error and scored on Gibbons’ single.
Tony Batista followed with a run-scoring single. B.J. Surhoff then singled before Deivi Cruz hit a two-run single, giving Baltimore a 7-0 lead.
After Toronto’s Shannon Stewart hit an RBI double in the bottom half, Frank Catalanotto followed with a run-scoring single.
Mora scored on catcher Greg Myers’ passed ball in the sixth.
Mora homered off Cliff Politte in the ninth.
Notes — The Orioles removed struggling left-hander Omar Daal from the starting rotation and replaced him with Pat Hentgen. … Toronto manager Carlos Tosca thinks four Blue Jays will make the All-Star team: 1B Carlos Delgado, CF Vernon Wells, RHP Roy Halladay and Lidle are possibilities. “Four deserve to go and I think four will go,” Tosca said.