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Must C Catch: Jones makes a spectacular grab

SEATTLE -- Finally.

The long-awaited return of Orioles starter Brian Matusz, who made his season debut off the disabled list on Wednesday, brought back something else that has been missing from Baltimore: A win.

Buoyed by Matusz's 5 2/3 innings, an outing in which he got stronger as he went along, the Orioles used a pair of solo homers and Adam Jones' acrobatic catch to edge the Mariners, 2-1, snapping a five-game losing streak in the process.

"I don't want to call it a big game," manager Buck Showalter said of the victory, which spared the Orioles a winless six-game road trip, "but I think emotionally it was a good win for us in a lot of ways."

As has become the norm in any game against Seattle, Jones was in the spotlight. Traded to Baltimore as part of a six-player swap with the Mariners in 2008, Jones continued to wreak havoc on his former team on both sides of the field.

With the score tied at 1, Jones sent reliever Jamey Wright's 2-1 offering into left field for a decisive eighth-inning home run, the first long ball surrendered by Wright this season and Jones' third hit of the afternoon.

"I think he's got a little chip on his shoulder against these guys," closer Kevin Gregg said of Jones, who is 11-for-20 with two doubles, a triple and six RBIs against Seattle this season.

"He can say that [he's not extra motivated] all he wants, but when he steps on the field, you know he's ready to go," Gregg said. [He's] just a tremendous athlete. You could see it in the outfield today. He looked like [Ken] Griffey with the play against the wall there."

Running full speed with his back to the plate, Jones -- who has been working on making catches from different angles -- reached out to rob Miguel Olivo, running up on the wall to make a fantastic grab to open the fourth inning.

"That was perfect," Jones said of his execution. "[I] just ran and ran and caught the ball. It's something that's really hard to replay in my mind. I remember doing it but it's hard to put into words."

It went something like this: Jones slammed up against the wall and did a backwards somersault when he hit the ground. He remarkably held on to the ball and then raised his arm triumphantly in the air when he came up and took a knee.

"I've seen him do it plenty of times from right field, but from first base it puts it into perspective how great of a catch that is," Nick Markakis said of the play. "It was probably one of the best catches of the year that I've seen. It doesn't surprise me that he comes up with that ball."

Matusz wasn't surprised to see Jones come up with the ball either, although he acknowledged that off the bat he didn't think Olivo would be doing anything but trotting around the bases in a home-run celebration.

"It's something I'm going to have to make adjustments on based on the ballparks, being able to get the ball on the ground more," said Matusz, who had some deep outs. "But Jonesy made a great play. It was awesome. It was a good momentum thing because it put a smile on my face and it helped me relax a little bit and have fun."

After allowing a second-inning run, Matusz got into a rhythm, retiring 10 straight at one point before Justin Smoak reached on Mark Reynolds' two-out error in the sixth. The play would also spell the end of Matusz's debut, as Showalter summoned Jim Johnson to finish the frame.

"It's a work in progress," Showalter said of Matusz, who went up several ticks with his velocity and relied mostly on his breaking ball to get him through. "[It was] a good start for him statistically. He thought this would be a good spot for him to start in, and hopefully it will carry on and he will continue to give us a chance to win. I think his raw stuff will get better."

Matusz was charged with just one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out three and not issuing a walk. By the end of the outing he said that he felt like his old self again, an encouraging quote given how valuable Matusz -- the team's No. 2 starter -- will be to the Orioles' season.

"I feel strong," Matusz said after the 84-pitch outing. "It's just a matter of being able to not get out of control out there on the mound. For me, I'm a feel pitcher. I make adjustments based on feel and that's what I was able to do [on Wednesday]."

Facing Mariners rookie phenom Michael Pineda for the second time this season, J.J. Hardy put the Orioles on the board with a second-inning homer. Hardy sent a 1-2 slider into the left-field stands for his third homer of the year and his second off Pineda. It was the only offense that the Orioles would get off the rookie, who outlasted Matusz and gave the Mariners seven innings.

"I'm still looking for a good pitch to hit," Brendan Ryan said when asked about Matusz's performance. "He mixed his pitches, kept the ball down. You tip your cap there if they're getting that call and continuing to abuse it, but at the same time, if we can get some things going off [CC] Sabathia or somebody who is a household name, no disrespect to Matusz, it's frustrating. But at the same time, you still have to tip your hat because not many pitches were over the heart of the plate." Comments