Baltimore (70-79) at Boston (90-60)

Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA, US
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 22, 2004
  • TV: ESPN, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Sidney Ponson is determined to finish at .500 this year. With the way he’s been pitching of late, that seems more and more likely.

He’ll bid for his ninth victory since the All-Star break when the Baltimore Orioles continue their four-game series with the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox.

Ponson, who was a dismal 3-12 with a 6.29 ERA on July 4, has reinvented himself since the break, using a change of speeds instead of relying solely on his hard stuff. He is 8-2 in his last 12 starts, including an 11-2 victory at AL Central-leading Minnesota on Friday.

Ponson allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking two. He improved to 11-14 on the season, and will finish at .500 with wins in each of his last three starts.

“That first half was a disaster, and I started pushing it harder and harder and right now I’m winning,” Ponson said. “It’s easy when you get these guys scoring 10, 11 runs a game. The defense is really good behind me and it makes my life easier—throw the ball over the plate and let them hit it.

“I have three more starts. If I win all three, I’ll salvage this season.”

Ponson began the season with a 7-2 victory over the Red Sox on April 4. However, he is 2-9 with a 6.67 ERA in 14 career starts against Boston.

The Red Sox appeared on the verge of slipping 5 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees on Tuesday as closer Keith Foulke squandered a 1-0 lead by allowing Javy Lopez’s two-out, two-run homer in the top of the ninth.

But Mark Bellhorn responded with a game-winning two-out, two-run hit off Baltimore’s Jorge Julio in the bottom of the ninth as Boston kept the pressure on New York by pulling out a 3-2 win.

The Red Sox, who snapped a three-game losing streak, open a weekend series with the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday.

Baltimore, which won Monday’s series opener 9-6, slipped to 5-4 on its 10-game road trip.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Ponson KC vs. B. Arroyo CIN
11-15 Record 10-9
5.30 ERA 4.03
115 K 142
69 BB 47
1.55 WHIP 1.22