Hendrickson pitches Orioles to 3rd straight win

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Mark Hendrickson’s(notes) drought as a starting pitcher was longer than the Baltimore Orioles’ quest for an elusive three-game winning streak.

Hendrickson won his first start since April, Jeff Fiorentino(notes) drove in two runs and the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 Saturday night for their third straight victory.

“This time of year, especially the last week of the season, a lot of it’s mental,” Hendrickson said. “Just go out there and finish on a good note. For myself, I was pretty proud of the way I handled my last four starts, giving my team a chance.”

The victory assured the Orioles of avoiding their third 100-loss season in club history.

“We don’t have to talk about it. … We don’t have to consider that any longer,” manager Dave Trembley said. “I didn’t think that was particularly prominent, although nobody wants to have to deal with something like that.”

Baltimore’s first three-game win streak since June 19-21—a span of 92 games—follows its 13-game skid.

Earlier in the day, Toronto fired general manager J.P. Ricciardi after eight seasons and promoted 32-year-old assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos. Acting team president Paul Beeston said he would recommend Anthopoulos be retained full time once the Blue Jays complete their search for a permanent chief executive officer.

Hendrickson (6-5), who was 0-5 in his previous nine starts and had spent time pitching out of the bullpen, allowed three runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out three in his first victory as a starter since April 10, his initial appearance of the year.

“He’s been three guys in one—long guy, spot starter, situational (and) matchup,” Trembley said. “He’s certainly done a nice job.”

Hendrickson hadn’t gone more than five innings in his last eight starts before heading to the bullpen, where he was 4-0 with a 3.44 ERA in 42 outings. Since rejoining the rotation in September, when the Orioles shut down some of their top pitching prospects, the 6-foot-9 left-hander has demonstrated an effective cutter and swing-and-miss curveball.

Saturday was his third straight outing of six or more innings.

“He’s got a good curveball. He keeps you off balance. He threw great tonight,” Toronto first baseman Kevin Millar(notes) said of Hendrickson.

Cla Meredith(notes) escaped a seventh-inning jam, Danys Baez(notes) pitched the eighth and Jim Johnson(notes) worked the ninth for his 10th save.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the second. After loading the bases on three singles, Travis Snider(notes) delivered a sacrifice fly and Hendrickson balked home a run.

In the Baltimore second, Lou Montanez(notes) doubled and scored on Fiorentino’s single.

A four-run fourth put the Orioles ahead. Nick Markakis(notes) led off with a double and scored on Ty Wigginton’s(notes) single. After Baltimore loaded the bases, Fiorentino and Guillermo Hernandez had RBI groundouts and Brian Roberts(notes) singled home another run.

Scott Richmond(notes) (8-11) went four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits.

“Richmond pretty much struggled for three months. Tonight was no different,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “He had problems locating his fastball. He has to make sure to put guys away. He didn’t get it done.”

Cesar Izturis(notes) doubled home a run for a 6-2 lead in the sixth.

Hendrickson departed after Snider doubled and Jose Bautista(notes) walked with one out in the seventh. Aaron Hill(notes) greeted Meredith with an RBI single.

NOTES: Bautista had a streak of four straight games with a home run snapped. … Roberts was voted Most Valuable Oriole in a media poll. He also won the award in 2005. … Baltimore OF Luke Scott(notes) missed a third straight game with a sore left foot. … Beeston, Anthopoulos and Rogers Media president Tony Viner spoke with disgruntled Blue Jays who had criticized Cito Gaston’s managerial style in a pregame players-only meeting.

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