Ponson poised to pick up a win

Ponson poised to pick up overdue win

The Orioles had a chance to tie the Boston Red Sox for first in the American League East but lost a 3-2 decision in the ninth inning Saturday in Seattle. Mike Morse's RBI single scored Adrian Beltre after Chris Ray's throwing error on a Willie Bloomquist's swinging bunt single. It was Ray's first Major League loss and it dampened 7 2/3 strong innings from left-hander Bruce Chen.

The Orioles will try to win the series and keep the pressure on Boston but will have to depend on right-hander Sidney Ponson to keep them in the game Sunday. Ponson has been uneven of late. In his previous start against Boston, he allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss. He is 0-2 with a 9.20 ERA in the past three outings and his 5.93 ERA is the highest of any AL starter.

The Mariners will counter with right-hander Gil Meche, who is the team's leader in wins and has been Seattle's most consistent starter. He last pitched Sunday against the Angels, allowing three runs in six innings as the Mariners completed a four-game sweep.

The Orioles managed 11 hits against Jamie Moyer and reliever J.J. Putz on Saturday, but were a porous 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Brian Roberts was 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .346 and retook the AL lead in average over Johnny Damon (.344).

Pitching matchup
BAL: Sidney Ponson
• 7-7, 5.93 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 10.50 vs. SEA in 2004

SEA: RHP Gil Meche
• 9-6, 4.54 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 4.00 vs. BAL in 2004

Player to watch
Roberts is just beginning to warm up after a slow past two weeks and he could continue that trend against Meche. Roberts is 7-for-12 against Meche lifetime with three RBIs.

"I am sure he has your cell phone number, too," -- Rafael Palmeiro after telling reporters President Bush called him on his cell.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
Official game notes

On television
• BAL: WJZ 13
• SEA: UPN 11

On radio
• BAL: WBAL 1090
• SEA: KOMO 1000

Quick hits
Chen's first-inning error was the third error of his Major League career and first since Aug. 12, 2001, against St. Louis while with the New York Mets. ... Rookie catcher Eli Whiteside had two hits and is 3-for-8 in three games. ... Palmeiro collected two singles to extended his hitting streak to six games. ... Steve Kline has not pitched since July 8. ... The Orioles are 7-21 all-time at Safeco Field and 75-80 at Seattle.

On deck
• Monday: at Minnesota, 8:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: at Minnesota, 8:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: at Minnesota, 1:10 p.m. ET

Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.