- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

TORONTO (AP) — Rodrigo Lopez is still trying to figure out how to handle Vernon Wells. At least he finally beat the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lopez won for the first time in seven career starts against Toronto and Rafael Palmeiro homered, lifting the Baltimore Orioles to an 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays last night.

Wells hit two home runs off Lopez, including a two-run blast in the third that landed two rows into the fifth deck of SkyDome — just the 13th time a ball has reached the uppermost tier.

“I’ve never seen somebody hit one in the upper deck. Today was my turn,” Lopez said. “He’s a good hitter. I’ve always had a problem with him. I made a mistake, and it landed almost in the [SkyDome] hotel.”

Palmeiro’s homer in the ninth did not reach the upper deck but was equally impressive for different reasons. His shot over the right field wall was his 547th homer, leaving him one behind Mike Schmidt for 10th place on the career list.

Wells is hitting .391 (9-for-23) in his career against Lopez, who is 1-4 with a 8.27 ERA in eight career games against Toronto.

“They get pretty comfortable against me, but today I got good movement on my fastball,” Lopez said.

Wells drove in four runs for the last-place Blue Jays, who have lost five of six. New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield was the last to reach the SkyDome’s fifth tier on July 28.

“Luckily I was able to join some of the other guys that have gone up there,” Wells said.

Lopez (13-8) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings for his fifth win in his last six starts, helping the Orioles win for the eighth time in their last 10 road games.

Toronto starter Miguel Batista (10-12) allowed seven runs, five hits and four walks in just two innings, his shortest outing of the season. Batista has won just once in his last 10 starts.

“My ball was moving a lot,” Batista said. “I couldn’t get it where I wanted it.”

Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the first on Palmeiro’s RBI grounder before Wells tied it in the home half with a solo shot. David Newhan’s run-scoring grounder and Mora’s two-run single gave Baltimore a 3-1 lead in the second. Surhoff’s two-run single and Larry Bigbie’s sacrifice fly in the third made it 7-1.

The Blue Jays had the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh but could manage only one run. Wells hit an RBI single before B.J. Ryan escaped the jam by getting Carlos Delgado to pop out, Alex Rios to strike out and Eric Hinske to ground out.

Mora’s RBI single off Jason Frasor gave Baltimore a 8-4 lead in the eighth. Delgado added an RBI single in the ninth.

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