Mike Mussina had just retired 27 of 29 batters, allowing only a pair of solo homers, when someone asked whether he had finally recovered from the broken nose he received last month.
"Well, it's only one game. I didn't throw out of the stretch the whole game, so I have to work on that," Mussina said, straight-faced and absolutely serious.
Mussina retired the final 22 batters in his second complete game of the season and the Baltimore Orioles handed Bobby Jones his first loss since April 30 by defeating the New York Mets 7-2 Monday night.
Mussina opened the game by getting five straight outs before giving up successive homers to Brian McRae and Butch Huskey. The Mets hit three balls out of the infield the rest of the way.
"It was kind of strange to pitch out of the windup the whole game," Mussina said. "We don't a whole lot about the Mets so we tried to piece it together as we go."
Mussina (6-4) struck out seven in his second career two-hitter (he also has two one-hitters). The right-hander had an 8.44 ERA in three starts since being sidelined three weeks after having his nose broken by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Sandy Alomar.
"The last few games he didn't have it. Tonight he had it," said Baltimore catcher Chris Hoiles, who homered and drove in three runs.
John Olerud, who came in batting .333, struck out twice and grounded out.
"I never felt like there was much to hit. It was a little off the plate and right on the corner," Olerud said. "He had good location."
Rafael Palmeiro's two-run homer, his 22nd of the season and sixth in 10 games, put Baltimore ahead to stay in the third. Cal Ripken hit a solo shot to make it 4-2 in the fourth.
Jones (6-4) was 5-0 in his previous eight starts. He gave up five runs and 12 hits in six innings, walking one and striking out one.
"In the first inning, I got a couple of bad breaks, but that's part of the game. They hit some rockets after that," Jones said. "The home runs were two mistakes. You can't make too many mistakes to good hitters."
Jones was replaced by Bill Pulsipher, making his first appearance in the majors since 1995. The left-hander allowed one hit in one scoreless inning.
New York played the majority of the game without manager Bobby Valentine, who was ejected by umpire Eric Cooper in the second for arguing a strike-three call against Olerud.
"That's not an American League strike zone. Just a guy (umpire) that had stage fright," Valentine said. "You don't usually see that."
The Orioles got a run in the first when Brady Anderson singled, stole second and scored on a single by No. 2 hitter Eric Davis.
McRae lined an 0-1 pitch over the right-field scoreboard in the second Three pitches later, Huskey hit his 10th of the season to left for a 2-1 lead.
Palmeiro's homer followed a single by Harold Baines and put Baltimore up 3-2 in the third. Ripken hit his seventh homer an inning later.
The Orioles ran themselves out of a big inning in the fifth, as Davis was caught trying to steal before Baines doubled. Baines strained a hamstring and was replaced by pinch-runner Joe Carter, who was cut down at the plate on a single by Roberto Alomar.
Baltimore went up 5-2 in the sixth on a double by Ripken and an RBI single by Hoiles.
In the eighth, the Mets botched a rundown and Ripken retreated safely to first with two outs. Hoiles followed with his third homer of the season, the first since April 21.
Notes: The start of the game was delayed by rain for 32 minutes. ... Davis went 3-for-4 and is 9-for-21 following a 1-for-12 stretch ... Mets left fielder Bernard Gilkey got his eighth assist, throwing out Anderson trying to stretch a single. ... Olerud is in a 1-for-14 skid.
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