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Witasick, Royals Blank O's


Jay Witasick is going to have to answer to a lot of people back home.

The Baltimore native and lifelong Baltimore fan, with his friends and family watching on TV, shut out the Orioles on four hits Thursday night, pitching Kansas City to a 6-0 victory in the finest outing of his career.

It was the first complete game and shutout for the struggling right-hander, who had won only once in his previous 10 starts.

"From childbirth on up, in my family, everybody is a straight Oriole fan," said Witasick (5-10), who still lives in Baltimore.

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  • "My girlfriend is. She lives in Baltimore. Her family lives in Baltimore. I hope she still talks to me after this."

    Carlos Beltran and Jed Hansen homered in support of Witasick, who walked four and struck out four and did not allow an Orioles runner as far as third base.

    Obtained in a trade from Oakland on March 30, Witasick had been winless in his last six starts and the Royals were thinking about putting him in the bullpen. The longest Witasick had pitched in his previous 24 starts was eight innings against Detroit on June 23.

    "He shut us down, no more to say," said Baltimore manager Ray Miller. "The first three innings, it looked like he was getting the ball four or five inches off the plate and our guys were swinging it down the middle. That's the way the game went. Then he settled down and pitched a good game against us."

    Witasick even unveiled a slider he hadn't used during his two-year major league career.

    " Broke it right out of the wrapper," he said. "It's something I threw in the minors. It's a pitch I had kind of torqued my arm a little bit in the minors throwing it too much."

    "We threw it in a couple of key situations. It's probably a pitch I'm going to keep in my repertoire."

    Beltran hit a wo-run shot off Sidney Ponson (11-9) in the seventh to give the Royals a 6-0 lead. The 21-year-old center fielder leads AL rookies with 87 RBIs, 90 runs, 156 hits and 20 home runs.

    Witasick said his family was gathered for a barbeque back in Baltimore.

    "I know they were all watching the game on TV and that got me pumped up," he said. "I just went out there and tried to attack their hitters one at a time."

    It's been no secret that he has struggled most of the season.

    "It's been a battle to come to the park every day and go out there and not know what you're going to have. Being in that groove tonight, I didn't ever want to come out," he said.

    Mike Sweeney hit an RBI single in the first. Then, with two out, Joe Randa walked, loading the bases. But shortstop Mike Bordick saved Ponson from a big inning with a nice stop of Jeremy Giambi's grounder.

    In the second, Hansen hit Ponson's first pitch over the fence in right field for his second home run.

    With one out in the third, Sweeney doubled into right-center and came home on Randa's RBI single to make it 3-0.

    Jermaine Dye tripled leading off the sixth and made it 4-0 on Giambi's sacrifice fly.

    Ponson gave up six runs and 10 hits in seven innings.

    Notes

  • Damon stretched his hitting streak to 11 games.
  • The Orioles won the season series 6-4 and hold a one-game lead in the all-time series in Kansas City 87-86.
  • The Royals have not had a winning record against the Orioles at home in 10 years.
  • Witasick is 2-4 at home in 10 starts.
  • The Royals lead the AL with 42 triples and have four players in the top seven (Carlos Febles 9, Dye 8, Damon 7, Randa 7).
  • Sweeney went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .326.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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