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Updated: Sunday, June 15, 2003 6:13 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Milwaukee Brewers
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 10 0
Baltimore Orioles
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
5 10 2
W Lopez (1-3)
L Sheets (6-6)
S Julio (15)
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BALTIMORE 5, MILWAUKEE 4
 

BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- Rodrigo Lopez finally looked like he did last season.

Activated from the disabled list before the game, Lopez worked 6 2/3 effective innings for his first win of the season as the Baltimore Orioles held on for a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers .

The runner-up for American League Rookie of the Year honors last season when he won 15 games, Lopez was sidelined for nearly two months with a strained left oblique muscle. He entered this contest winless in six starts with a 7.36 ERA.

Lopez (1-3) made a successful return by limiting the Brewers to three runs - two earned - and six hits. The righthander struck out one without a walk, throwing 67 of 100 pitches for strikes before departing with a 5-3 lead.

"I felt good out there. I felt proud of myself," Lopez said. "The rest I got on the DL made me stronger. I feel comfortable after today's performance. I had more power on my pitches."

"I thought he looked stronger than he did before he went on the DL," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "His velocity before was 88-90 and today it was 92-93. He was obviously a lot stronger and his slider had a lot more consistency."

Buddy Groom and Kerry Ligtenberg combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings before closer Jorge Julio made things interesting in the ninth.

Julio surrendered a two-out run-scoring single to Scott Podsednik that pulled the Brewers within 5-4. Podsednik stole second and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Geronimo Gil , but Julio struck out Keith Ginter to end it, securing his 15th save.

Brewers starter Ben Sheets (6-6) was roughed up for five runs and six hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out five.

"It was a bad day all-around," Sheets said. "I didn't do anything I wanted to."

Lopez retired the first six batters he faced and the Orioles gave him a lead to work with in the bottom of the second. Jay Gibbons started the inning with a double and came home one out later on a single by B.J. Surhoff.

Lopez also set down the side in order in the third before the Brewers finally got something going in the fourth.

Podsednik led off with a single and Ginter reached on an error by third baseman Tony Batista . Richie Sexson was hit by a pitch and Geoff Jenkins followed with a two-run single. But Lopez avoided further trouble by getting John Vander Wal to bounce into a double play and striking out Wes Helms .

"I gave up a couple of his, but I didn't panic," Lopez said. "I knew we were going to come back with some runs. I kept doing a good job with my pitches. I felt comfortable."

In the bottom of the inning, Sheets threw a pitch behind Gibbons, drawing a warning to both benches from plate umpire Jim Joyce.

"That's baseball. I didn't get excited," Gibbons said.

Gibbons drew a leadoff walk and, after David Segui bounced into a forceout, Batista hit his 11th homer, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

"Batista's home run was a fly ball, first row," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

"Well, it was a good fly ball," Batista said. "I hit a fastball. I hit it pretty good."

Surhoff kept things going with a walk and Deivi Cruz followed by sending a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for his ninth homer.

Sheets has struggled keeping the ball in the park this season, surrendering a major league-leading 22 homers.

Brooks Kieschnick hit his second homer of the season with two outs in the seventh, pulling the Brewers within 5-3. Lopez surrendered consecutive singles to Keith Osik and Royce Clayton to put runners on the corners, but Groom, a lefthander, struck out the lefthanded-hitting Podsednik to preserve the lead.

"Lopez coming back strong today was huge," Gibbons said. "He helps our club."


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