Bit of `magic' lifts O's

They beat Angels in 9th, 7-6, after blowing 5-0 lead

Ripken likens it to past

Ponson yields 2 HRs

Surhoff has rare error

May 03, 2000|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

There once was a term for what happened at Camden Yards last night, something largely left unspoken since the gates closed at Memorial Stadium and 33rd Street was abandoned for the Inner Harbor.

But something about the Orioles' 7-6 win over the Anaheim Angels stirred a memory. Ahead of Angels starting pitcher Scott Schoeneweis 5-0 with Sidney Ponson dealing, the Orioles crumbled defensively during the sixth and seventh innings and entered the bottom of the ninth trailing, 6-5. On came Angels closer Troy Percival to complete the reversal. Five hitters and 15 pitches later, the Orioles danced away with an improbable win, Cal Ripken scoring the winning run on Mike Bordick's slap single to right field.

"I remember they used to call it Oriole Magic years ago," said Ripken, the last active connection to those days.

"I'd rather have a 7-0 win and Sidney Ponson cruising. But a lot of times when you do this more than once coming from behind, it builds a confidence, it builds a spirit within the clubhouse and you think you can win any game when you're in it."

The Orioles did everything they could to beat themselves for two innings then did enough to beat one of the game's most intimidating closers.

What might have been the Oriolos' third loss of the season after holding a five-run lead became their first when trailing after eight innings and the fourth in their last at-bat.

"It's not very fun when you give up a five-run lead. After the seventh inning it took us a while to recover. It's not an easy thing to do," said manager Mike Hargrove.

"There was definitely no feeling of giving up," said catcher Charles Johnson, who contributed to the ninth-inning rally. "We've got a great group of guys here. They're veteran guys. But when you get to that point, you know it's going to be a tough battle. Percival's a guy you really don't want to see out there."

Before an announced crowd of 34,923, the Orioles beat Percival after Jeff Conine rallied from behind in the count to walk; Ripken smoked a first-pitch, game-tying double; pinch hitter Harold Baines was intentionally walked and Johnson fought off numerous breaking pitches from a fastball pitcher then loaded the bases with a single to left field.

Bordick, with an error and two strikeouts, then righted his most frustrating game of the season with the inning's third hit.

"We battle and stay in the ballgame. We don't try to make mistakes. It was a little disheartening to drop the 5-0 lead and get behind," said Ripken. "It was very exhilarating to keep plugging away and come back to win."

"It certainly wasn't pretty," said Bordick, whose error was one of four, two by each team. "But not every win can be pretty. The most important thing is we won the game."

To get there, the Orioles overcame dicey fielding and a corresponding loss of effectiveness by Ponson with two RBIs from Ripken, three from center fielder Brady Anderson and an ability to extend a decade's hex over the Angels. The Orioles have nine straight games and 14 of their last 15 against the Angels. The Angels haven't captured a season's road or overall series from the Orioles since 1988.

"The main thing was not letting it bother us late in the ballgame," said Johnson. "You have to forget about it. Errors happen. You've just got to keep going out and try to play good baseball."

Mike Trombley (2-1) took the win in return for getting three outs against two hitters. Ponson was absolved of what would have been a hurtful loss. And the Orioles won for the 10th time in their last 11 home games.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead on Anderson's single in the third inning, stretched it to 3-0 in the fourth and with Anderson contributing again in the fifth, jacked the lead to 5-0.

Anderson's contribution in the third inning came with a price. With two outs, he slashed a single to center field with Clark at second base. Waved home by third base coach Sam Perlozzo, Clark pulled his left hamstring rounding the bag. He continued running and slid heavily to score. He picked himself up slowly and forced himself to trot through a grimace.

Clark was listed as day-to-day but will likely be put on the disabled list before the Orioles leave for this weekend's six-game road trip to New York and Toronto. The Orioles now face at least a temporary spell without one of the league's most curious sets of offensive numbers.

Clark entered last night batting .356 with 19 walks and a league-leading .519 on-base percentage. The run was his 18th, tying him with Bordick for team high. But despite his gaudy percentages, Clark has only three RBIs in 60 at-bats, an anomaly attributed to sluggish starts by those hitting in front of him and a .167 average (2-for-12) with runners in scoring position.

jv0 Yet Bordick had repeatedly cited Clark's frequent presence on base as a leading reason for the shortstop's team record 29 RBIs in April.

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