Bedard wins fifth consecutive decision

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Erik Bedard chuckled when someone suggested he's turning into the Baltimore Orioles' ace.

If he's not their top pitcher yet, he's certainly getting closer.

Bedard pitched five-hit ball for seven innings to win his fifth consecutive decision and the Orioles averted their first three-game losing streak of the season by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 on Saturday night.

"He's been incredible," said Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons,
who homered. "The main thing is he's throwing strikes. We always knew he had the stuff. Last year, he had the same stuff. He just had a little more trouble locating it. Right now, he's lights-out."

Bedard (5-1) walked two and struck out seven in the Orioles' fourth shutout this year. He is unbeaten in six starts since losing to Detroit on April 18.

"I feel good," Bedard said. "Again, I was just throwing strikes and keeping them off-balance. That's pretty much the key to pitching. If you struggle, you get behind in counts and you have problems."

Better known for his changeup and curve, Bedard frustrated the Phillies with his fastball, using offspeed stuff to set up that pitch.

"I thought his fastball was his best pitch tonight," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "He had tremendous command. He had a cutter up and in on right-handers and just moved it around on lefties. But his fastball was his big pitch."

Brian Roberts had three hits for Baltimore. Chris Gomez drove in three runs, and Gibbons and Jeff Fiorentino had two RBI apiece.

Five times this season, the Orioles have lost two straight. But they always come up with a way to halt losing spurts quickly.

"You like to minimize that and stay away from long streaks," Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said. "That's what we've been able to do."

Jorge Julio and Steve Kline each pitched an inning to complete the five-hitter and hand the Phillies their third shutout -- all on the road.

Baltimore, whose 56-84 record in interleague games entering Saturday was the worst mark in the major leagues, took a 2-0 lead off Vicente Padilla in the third.

A double by Gibbons, a walk to Gomez and a botched fielder's choice on Larry Bigbie's sacrifice attempt loaded the bases. After Roberts popped out, Fiorentino hit a two-run single into left field.

The Orioles ran themselves out of a chance to pad their lead in the fifth when Roberts hit a one-out double to the wall in left-center and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Fiorentino followed with a double and Melvin Mora reached on an infield hit before Miguel Tejada bounced into an inning-ending groundout.

Gibbons' seventh homer made it 4-0 in the sixth. Rafael Palmeiro
led off with a single to right, and after Javy Lopez fanned, Gibbons hit a 1-1 pitch from Padilla (1-5) over the right field scoreboard.

Padilla, whose lone win came in his last start on May 15 against Cincinnati, departed after allowing four runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 hits, walked one and struck out four.

Gomez's three-run double off Terry Adams in the eighth made it 7-0.

"We've got to get better in the bullpen," Manuel said. "You want to stop the game right there. I worry about the middle relief guys."

Game notes
The Orioles snapped Philadelphia's season-high streak of 12 games with a home run. ... Baltimore is tied with Chicago for the most shutouts in the AL. ... Before the game, Philadelphia activated first baseman Jim Thome (lower back strain) from the disabled list and optioned first baseman Ryan Howard to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... A first-inning single extended Roberts' hitting streak to 12 games. ... Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu went 0-for-3 to end his hitting streak at 13.