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Paul Menhart boosted his confidence and lowered his 9.87 ER

August 3, 1995

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Paul Menhart boosted his confidence and lowered his 9.87 ERA with the best pitching performance of his career.

Unfortunately, the Toronto Blue Jays’ rookie didn’t have a victory to show for it.

Menhart tossed a one-hitter Wednesday night, but his lone mistake cost him the game. Harold Baines’ second-inning homer was enough offense for Mike Mussina, who allowed only four hits in the Baltimore Orioles’ 1-0 victory.

Menhart (1-2), making his third major league start in place of Al Leiter, pitched his first complete game in the majors. He struck out three and walked four in reducing his ERA to 7.11.

``You can’t pitch much better than that,″ teammate John Olerud said. ``You have an outing like that and it definitely gives you confidence.″

Menhart missed the entire 1994 season after undergoing surgery on his right elbow. He started this season with Toronto before being shipped to the minors on June 4, then stymied the Orioles in his second appearance since his recall Sunday.

``I’ve never pitched better. ... This puts me on the right track,″ the right-hander said. ``The arm’s intact _ it’s a good sign.″

Mussina, meanwhile, didn’t allow a runner past second base in winning his career-best eighth straight decision. Mussina (13-5), the winningest pitcher in the majors, struck out six and walked two.

``Fortunately, they got four hits and spaced them out while we got one big one,″ said Mussina, 8-0 with a 2.92 ERA since June 18. ``I’d say we got pretty lucky.″

Baines’ clout was the extent of the Baltimore attack, with the exception of the sixth inning when Menhart walked the bases loaded with two outs before retiring Bobby Bonilla on a groundball.

``Mussina ended up winning the ballgame, but I’m not sure the kid didn’t outpitch him,″ Toronto manager Cito Gaston said.

``It hurts a lot. Earlier this year I had two starts, gave up five runs in each and got no decision,″ Menhart said. ``It’s not fair, but that’s baseball.″

Asked what he was thinking before serving up the 1-2 pitch to Baines, Menhart replied, ``Throw it outside, throw it down, anywhere but there. It was right down the middle.″

The last time Baltimore won with one hit was in May 1983 against the Chicago White Sox.

It was a welcome victory for the Orioles, who had lost the first two games of the four-game series, including a deflating 12-10 setback Tuesday in which the Blue Jays scored six in the ninth.

``What a difference a day makes,″ manager Phil Regan said. ``Last night we get 10 runs and we don’t win. Tonight, one hit and one run and we win.″

Toronto had won six of seven overall and five straight on the road.

Baines’ 15th homer of the season _ his second in two nights _ traveled well over the center-field wall, an estimated 432 feet.

Toronto’s Joe Carter doubled with one out in the fourth before John Olerud fouled out and Ed Sprague hit a liner to shortstop Cal Ripken. The Blue Jays got runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth, but Mussina retired Domingo Cedeno on a fly ball.

Mussina allowed only one baserunner after that _ Roberto Alomar, who opened the ninth with a single but was wiped out in a game-ending double play.

Leiter missed the game with a blister on the middle finger of his left hand.

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