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Belle, O's Fly Over Tigers

Sidney Ponson was on the brink of his sixth complete game when Baltimore Orioles manager Ray Miller stepped from the dugout.

The fans at Camden Yards booed his every step as he walked to the mound.

Ponson didn't get to finish, although he could console himself with another victory in a sophomore season in which he has established himself as one of the finest young pitchers in the game.

Ponson scattered nine hits before leaving with one out in the ninth inning and Albert Belle hit a three-run homer as the Orioles handed Detroit its ninth straight loss, 6-3, Thursday night.

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  • "I definitely wanted to go the distance, but Ray decides when I come out," said Ponson, who threw 109 pitches. "He thought it was enough, and I have no problem with that."

    Ponson (10-7) struck out four and walked none. He was two outs from padding his AL-lead in complete games when he was lifted after allowing a home run to Juan Encarnacion and a single to Gabe Alvarez.

    "I figure it's a no-brainer," Miller said. "It probably was not a popular decision, but after the home run and base hit, it was time."

    Mike Timlin then got the final two outs for his 13th save in 21 chances.

    Brady Anderson and Charles Johnson hit solo homers for the Orioles, who built a 6-1 lead after three innings and coasted to their second straight win after a six-game skid.

    Baltimore did all its scoring against Jeff Weaver (6-8), who gave up six runs and seven hits, including three homers, in 3 1-3 innings. The Tigers' top pick in the 1998 draft is 0-5 in 12 starts since May 27.

    Weaver, unlike the 22-year-old Ponson, has hit the wall after an impressive start. As a result, the Tigers are considering having him take a step back, perhaps by placing him on the disabled list.

    "I wouldn't want to shut him down for the season, but I'd like to give him a month to rest and get his strength back," manager Larry Parrish said. "Early in the year, the thing we liked about him was his command. He just doesn't have that command right now."

    The Tigers' nine-game losing streak is their longest since a nine-game run last August. Detroit has lost 10 of 11 against Baltimore, including three of four this season.

    "If we could do anything about it, we would have done it already," Parrish said. "We're getting down early in the game and that kind of takes you out of anything you can do."

    Anderson doubled and scored on a groundout by B.J. Surhoff in the first inning, and Johnson's first homer since June 25 made it 2-0 in the second.

    Detroit got a run-scoring groundout by Brad Ausmus in the third, and Baltimore responded with four runs in its half. Anderson led off with his 15th homer and Weaver hit Mike Bordick with a pitch before Surhoff hit a fly to left that dropped in front of Encarnacion. Belle then hit a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats, his 27th homer.

    The Tigers got a run in the eighth on a single by Kimera Bartee, a double by Ausmus and a run-scoring groundout by Damion Easley.


  • Detroit's Tony Clark, who singled in the seventh, has reached base in a team-high 22 straight games.
  • The Orioles announced that bench coach Eddie Murray will manage the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League in October. It will be his managerial debut.
  • Over the past five seasons the Orioles are 20-4 against Detroit in Baltimore.
  • A replay of Mark McGwire's 500th home run was shown on the video screen, and the crowd responded with cheers.

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