Ponson a good fit in Orioles' win

Sunday, June 8, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The Baltimore Orioles made sure to take a good look at pitcher Sidney Ponson in that St. Louis Browns throwback uniform.

"I think everybody laughed," Ponson said. "They told me I looked like an old player. I'm kind of big, chubby."

The 6-foot-1, 249-pound Ponson pitched his second complete game in three starts, leading the Orioles past the Cardinals 8-1 Saturday.

Deivi Cruz hit two home runs, and Melvin Mora and Jeff Conine also homered for Baltimore, which snapped a four-game skid and ended the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.

"It helps having a guy like Sidney on the mound," Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. "Everybody likes to have a stopper and Sidney has kind of become ours. Hopefully, that continues."

The former city rivals wore old-style jerseys -- with the Orioles donning Browns uniforms -- to commemorate the only all-St. Louis World Series in 1944. The Browns left to become the Baltimore Orioles after the 1953 season.

The Cardinals wore the '44 home whites while the Orioles wore the gray road uniform of the Browns. The Cardinals won that World Series in six games.

Cruz's second career two-homer game gave him seven homers this season. Cruz went 3-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs in the series opener Friday night.

Ponson (8-3) allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked two for his 20th career complete game and second this season. He threw an eight-hitter in beating Anaheim 12-4 on May 27.

The right-hander, who threw 122 pitches, has won seven of his last eight starts, including his last four. After a first-inning walk to Jim Edmonds, Ponson retired 21 of his next 22 batters before pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro singled with one out in the eighth inning. Edmonds had a single in the fourth during that span.

St. Louis starter Garrett Stephenson (3-5) gave up five runs on seven hits, including the four homers, in 5 2-3 innings. Stephenson has allowed six homers in his last 12 2-3 innings.

"To have a chance, we needed Garrett to come up with a good game, and he just wasn't very good," manager Tony La Russa said. "Let's face it, he didn't pitch very well."

With one out and Brian Roberts on first, Mora hit a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a 2-0 Baltimore lead in the first inning. The home run extended Mora's hitting streak to a career-best 19 games. He finished 3-for-5.

The Cardinals got a run back in the first on Albert Pujols' double, but J.D. Drew was easily throw out at the plate on a relay from second baseman Brian Roberts.

Ponson retired the next two batters and never faced any problems until the eighth, when two batters reached with one out. But he pitched out of the jam.

"He was vulnerable in the first inning," La Russa said. "After that, he got better and better."

Pujols' double stretched his streak of reaching base to nine consecutive plate appearances (eight hits, one walk) and he has hit safely in his last nine games, going 20-for-33 (.606) with two homers, six runs and 10 RBIs. Pujols grounded out in his second at-bat.

Ponson said he tweaked his mechanics after the first inning, and that made a big difference.

"I wasn't completely 100 percent with my mechanics in the bullpen," he said. "After they threw J.D. Drew out at home, I calmed down. I kept my ball down in the zone and I got outs."

Cruz led off the second with a homer into the left-field bullpen. He hit his second homer with two outs in the fourth to straightaway center. Cruz's other two-homer game came in 1999 against Toronto.

"This one was better," Cruz said. "We won and this is now. The other one is in the past. I'm not a power hitter. Sometimes, when you hit the ball good, the ball carries good, you know."

Conine connected with one out in the sixth, giving the Orioles a 5-1 lead. The homer snapped an 0-for-19 skid on the road for Conine, who added a two-run double in the eighth inning off reliever off Dustin Hermanson.

"Every mistake I made today was a home run, and I made four of them," Stephenson said. "I was making good pitches for the most part. But every mistake I made went over the wall."

Brook Fordyce doubled leading off the ninth and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Notes: Plate umpire Bruce Froemming ejected Edmonds after calling him out on strikes in the sixth inning. ... Baltimore's Luis Matos extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the eighth inning. He has hit safely in all 13 games he has played in since being recalled from Triple-A Ottawa on May 23. ... All the music played at Busch Stadium between innings was from the 1940s. ... On the scoreboard, the Orioles were called the Browns.

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