Orioles 9, Blue Jays 2

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Here’s something that Cory Lidle should consider the next time he faces Jeff Conine: intentional walk.

Conine hit two homers and drove in five runs, and Sidney Ponson pitched eight strong innings to earn his 11th win as the Baltimore Orioles breezed past the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 Saturday night.

Conine’s first homer, a three-run shot, put Baltimore up 3-0 in the third. He added a two-run homer in the fourth to make it 7-0.

Both home runs were against Lidle (10-7), who allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings. Conine is 11-for-16 with three homers and eight RBIs lifetime against Lidle.

“It’s one of things in baseball you can’t really explain,” Conine said. “Some guys, it just seems you have better luck against and just see the ball better against them. I guess he happens to be one of those guys.”

Lidle also failed to come up with a logical explanation for his lack of success against Conine.

“If I knew I’d change it. I don’t know,” the right-hander said. “He hit a 3-1 changeup, a pretty decent pitch, and a 2-2 fastball in, over the fence. I don’t know, he just sees the ball out of my hand and puts the bat on it. I’ve tried a lot of different things with him but so far I haven’t figured him out.”

Brook Fordyce also homered and AL batting leader Melvin Mora went 4-for-4 to help the Orioles extend their winning streak to four—tying a season high.

Baltimore will seek its first four-game sweep of Toronto since 1979 on Sunday. The Orioles are 5-4 against the Blue Jays after going 4-15 last year.

“At this point in time, a sweep over anyone is nice,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “But the Blue Jays for a couple of years have been beating us like stepkids.”

Greg Myers and Shannon Stewart homered for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of eight.

“I’m not too concerned about it. We started off the season pretty slowly, and once we remembered that we could play, we played well,” Lidle said.

Ponson (11-5) allowed two runs and seven hits, striking out four and walking none. The right-hander’s 11 wins are the most by an Oriole before the All-Star break since Mike Mussina won 11 in 1999.

Ponson has won 10-3 in his last 13 starts and is within one victory of matching his career high of 12 wins, set in 1999. He has never had a winning season since breaking into the majors in 1998.

“I’ve never seen him pitch this well for an extended time,” Hargrove said.

Baltimore got the rout started in the third inning, when Luis Matos got the first of his three hits and Mora singled before Conine drove a Lidle pitch into the left-field seats.

In the fourth, Mora singled in a run and another scored on a throwing error by Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells before Conine chased Lidle with his 12th homer of the season.

“He may be a little fatigued,” Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said of Lidle. “Usually this time of the year you might have a guy who’s starting to get a little fatigued. That’s probably causing his stuff not to be as sharp.”

Conine’s two homers and five RBIs matched his career highs. It’s the 19th time he’s hit two homers in a game.

Baltimore made it 9-0 against Scott Service in the sixth. Fordyce led off with his second homer, and Mora hit an RBI single.

Myers hits his ninth home run leading off the seventh, and Stewart homeredin the eighth.

Notes

Baltimore leadoff hitter Brian Roberts has scored a run in nine straight games. … Toronto 2B Orlando Hudson was rested after straining his left groin on Friday. He’s day-to-day. … Fordyce has nine RBIs, one more than all of last season. … The loss left Toronto 17-19 against the AL East,including a combined 6-11 against Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

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