2-run 9th saves O's, 7-6

Ponson, fielding lapse blow 5-0 lead, but O's rally to top Angels

Bordick's 30th RBI wins it

1st Surhoff error since '98 precedes 3-run HR

May 03, 2000|By JOE STRAUSS | JOE STRAUSS,SUN STAFF

For five innings last night, the Orioles were enjoying a 5-0 lead over the Anaheim Angels, a dominant performance by Sidney Ponson and a breakout by center fielder Brady Anderson.

After nine innings and allowing six unanswered runs, the Orioles instead rejoiced over a two-run, ninth-inning rally that gave them a 7-6 win over the Anaheim Angels and closer Troy Percival.

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.

It ended with Mike Bordick slicing a single to right field that scored Cal Ripken for his 30th RBI. It was Ripken's double into the left-center-field gap that had scored Jeff Conine from first base with the tying run three hitters before. Percival (0-2) left with-out having retired a hitter. After an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Harold Baines, Percival yielded a single to Charles Johnson to load the bases. Anaheim then used five infielders, but Bordlck foiled the strategy with an opposite-field liner to right.

The Orioles overcame dicey fielding and a corresponding loss of effectiveness by Ponson with two RBIs from Ripken, three from Anderson and their ability to extend a decade-long hex over the Angels.

"I remember they used to call it Oriole Magic years ago," said Ripken. "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."

Mike Trombley gained the win in return for getting three outs against two hitters. Ponson was absolved what would have been a hurtful loss.

Ponson was facing a surprising team at its best.

Not only did the upstart Angels enter averaging 6.5 runs and 10.8 hits over their previous 13 games, but they had resembled a different team behind Scott Schoeneweis.

Only 8-13 with a minus-23 run differential without him, the Angels were 5-0 and had outscored opponents 36-14 with him starting.

The Angels also were facing a less flattering trend. Their starting rotation has struggled away from Edison Field, where it is 8-5 with a 3.53 ERA. Entering last night, Angels starters were 3-5 with a 7.18 road ERA, and Schoeneweis' only negative outing, a six-run beating on April 21 against Tampa Bay, had come in a road start.

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 shallow center field with Clark at second base. Third base coach Sam Perlozzo never hesitated in waving Clark home to score.

Clark appeared to slide heavily on his left side. He picked himself up slowly and forced himself to trot through a grimace. He disappeared into the dugout and kept going toward the clubhouse.

With the inning over, Ponson completed his warmup tosses while first base remained vacant. Finally, Rich Amarai completed his scramble for a fielder's glove and took Clark's position. Moments later it was reported that Clark had suffered a slight hamstring strain and was considered day-to-day.

Manager Mike Hargrove has implemented a rotation of his left-handed hitters when facing left-handed pitching. Last night, Baines sat while Clark and Anderson played. (Baines has received only seven at-bats vs. left-handed pitching, lowest among players active the entire season.) At times, Conine has spelled Clark at first base or Albert Belle in right field. Belle had served as the designated hitter in three of four games before last night, in part to allow Hargrove more flexibility with his position players.

The Orioles now face at least a brief 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. Clark's third-inning double was his sixth and the run his 19th, 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.

Conine's one-out opposite-field double and Ripken's ground ball against a relaxed infield accounted for two fourth-inning runs.

Anderson returned in the fourth with one out and Johnson at first base following a throwing error by shortstop Gary DiSarcina. On the first pitch. Anderson crushed a home run to straight-away center field, his first and the Orioles' seventh against left-handed pitching.

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