- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

BALTIMORE — Health clearly isn’t a concern for Oakland pitcher Tim Hudson. The Baltimore Orioles can’t say the same.

Baltimore lost Jerry Hairston and Brian Roberts to injuries in an 11-0 humbling by Hudson and the Athletics before 32,243 at Camden Yards.

The loss prompted Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli to call a meeting after the game to remind his team of its recent hot streak. But as much as the loss hurt, the team’s latest medical maladies are far more frustrating.

Hairston injured his left ankle after crashing into the center-field wall in pursuit of Adam Melhuse’s home run in the eighth that capped the scoring. X-rays revealed a left ankle injury for the converted second baseman, who had been battling a sore left heel. He was to undergo a CAT scan last night.

“I don’t care what the score is,” Hairston said. “I’m going to give my best out there.”

Roberts’ woes weren’t nearly as serious. The second baseman, whose presence forced Hairston to the outfield in the first place, fouled a ball off his right shin in the sixth inning and left at the start of the seventh.

“It’s sore, but I’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Roberts said.

That would be welcome news for Mazzilli, who has weathered injuries to several key players — including Hairston, Jay Gibbons, Melvin Mora, David Segui and B.J. Surhoff — this season. However, he sounded resigned to being without Hairston again for some time.

“We’ll have to see where Jerry’s at, but from the looks of it, it doesn’t look very good,” Mazzilli said.

That couldn’t have made it easy for Mazzilli to deliver his postgame message of staying positive. The Orioles (57-61) had won 11 of 13 to approach the .500 mark before dropping the first two games of the three-game set to the A’s.

The Orioles’ lack of offense simply could be attributed to Hudson, who won for the first time since returning from the disabled list less than two weeks ago. He also improved to 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA lifetime against the Orioles, needing only 97 pitches to finish a five-hitter.

Hudson’s outing had to be encouraging for the A’s (67-52), who maintained their half-game lead on Texas in the AL West. The right-hander, a mainstay of a rotation that has led Oakland to four straight postseason appearances, missed more than six weeks with a left oblique strain before returning Aug.7. He had made two solid but unspectacular starts since his activation.

Last night, though, the two-time All-Star was in complete command. Hudson (8-4) worked few deep counts and tamed the Orioles early with a sleep-inducing series of ground balls. In the two cases a runner reached safely with less than two outs, the A’s simply turned two — one a rare 6-5-3 double play with a heavy shift on for Rafael Palmeiro.

Hudson was just as efficient late in the game, retiring the final seven Orioles for his eighth career shutout. Hudson didn’t allow a man past first while striking out four and inducing 15 groundball outs.

“He got quick outs and maintained his velocity throughout the game,” Mazzilli said. “He had all his pitches.”

Meanwhile, the patient Oakland offense had several opportunities against Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez (10-8) before taking a 1-0 lead when the struggling Jermaine Dye homered in the fifth.

Oakland did far more damage in the sixth, when it chased Lopez and then southpaw John Parrish while pushing across a run. Todd Williams entered and issued a bases-loaded walk to Dye on four pitches to make it 3-0, then surrendered a grand slam to Scott Hatteberg that barely cleared the right-field wall and turned a tight game into a rout.

Notes — The Orioles’ four-series winning streak ended. … The Orioles went over the 2million mark in attendance for the 16th straight season. The team has drawn 2,025,186 in 60 home dates.

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