Orioles Dash Boston's Hopes

When Orioles manager Mike Hargrove looks at Sidney Ponson, he sees a 23-year-old kid with a fastball in the mid- to high-90s who has needed to learn patience on the mound.

But after taking some knocks this season, Ponson seems to be getting it.

Ponson pitched a four-hitter to lead Baltimore past the Boston Red Sox 3-1 Friday night, sending the Red Sox further back in the playoff chase.

Ponson (9-12) mixed a sharp curve with his fastball, worked the corners, and kept Boston off-balance all night while recording just three strikeouts.

"A lot of people have the wrong idea that pitching is about strikeouts," Hargrove said. "The whole idea is to keep the big part of the bat off the ball. He did that today."

Ponson recorded his sixth complete game of the season and his first career win against Boston in five decisions.

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  • As good as Ponson was, the Red Sox admitted they were flat after dropping three of five to Cleveland in a series that all but killed their playoff hopes.

    Boston is 4 1/2 games behind Cleveland and Oakland in the wild card race, pending games later Friday night.

    "We wanted to win two more games against Cleveland," Red Sox third baseman Manny Alexander said. "We didn't, and it took something out of us."

    But Ponson was superb, Alexander said.

    "Ponson was as good as I've ever seen him," he said. "His curveball was outstanding."

    Boston's only serious threat came in the third when center fielder Eugene Kingsale misplayed Darren Lewis' RBI single, putting runners on second and thrd with two outs. Ponson ended the inning by getting Jason Varitek to fly out to left.

    Since allowing five runs in 6 1-3 innings in a loss to Cleveland on Sept. 1, Ponson has allowed just eight earned runs is 33 2-3 innings (2.14 ERA).

    "It is tough, but I think I'm learning," Ponson said. "Before when I had guys on second and third, I'd try to throw a 100 miles an hour. Now I'm more relaxed."

    Greg Myers gave Ponson got all the runs he'd need when he pulled a fastball from Ramon Martinez (10-8) into the right field stands for a two-run homer that broke a 1-all tie in the fifth.

    Martinez allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings.

    Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett was greeted with boos when he was announced as a pinch-hitter for Mike Lansing in the eighth inning, and booed when he struck out.

    Everett was involved in a shouting match with Lewis on Thursday after Everett arrived late to the game, then told manager Jimy Williams he couldn't start. Everett has been nursing a strained left quadriceps.

    The win was just Baltimore's second in eight games, and fifth in 16 games.

    Boston took a 1-0 lead in the third when Lewis' two-out single scored Alexander, who had singled and advanced to second on a walk.

    The Orioles tied it in the fourth when Jerry Hairston homered into the left-field screen.

    Notes

  • Nomar Garciaparra's infield single in the fourth extended his hitting streak to 14 games, tying a season-high for Boston.
  • Melvin Mora was caught stealing in the first inning, making him just 4 for 11 in steal attempts this season.
  • Baltimore's road record is 29-50, worst in the American League.

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