O's turn blown-save tables, 7-6

3 runs off Rivera in 9th salvage final after lost lead in 8th

Yanks bullpen was 9-0

2-out Belle hit wins it

Timlin finds `fire'

May 08, 2000|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Another typical game broke out between the Orioles and New York Yankees inside Yankee Stadium, meaning that down became up, good became bad and Friday's tragic figure became yesterday's hero.

When the whole thing had ended and virtually nothing made sense, the Orioles had squandered yet another eighth-inning lead only to bounce back for three ninth-inning runs and a7-6 win against the game's most dominant bullpen.

Of the52,559 present, only those inside the visitor's dugout believed what had happened, and some of them looked dazed afterward.

Within a span of 1 1/2 innings, the Orioles' suspect bullpen fumbled a4-2 lead on Scott Brosius' eighth-inning grand slam off Mike Trombley and righted themselves with four well-placed singles and three runs off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (2-1).

The Orioles were within a strike of their fifth consecutive loss until Albert Belle's two-out, two-run single scored Brady Anderson and Delino DeShields to reverse the Yankees' 6-5 lead.

Cal Ripken saw the win as nothing less than "huge." Usually given to understatement, manager Mike Hargrove didn't disagree.

"It means we caught some breaks late in the ballgame today," he said. "We've got good players; it just has to gel for us. ... Once our bullpen gets on solid ground and starts throwing the way it can as a whole, I think we're going to be a pretty good ballclub."

The Orioles won because they ruined the Yankees bullpen's 9-0 start and because Belle interrupted his 4-for-24 struggle with runners in scoring position, including 1-for-7 with two outs. They also won because they handed Rivera his second blown save since last July 16.

A late-inning collapse would have sent the Orioles (16-14) reeling to .500. It also would have come less than 48 hours after they had given upfour runs on a pair of ninth-inning home runs to lose Friday, 12-10. Instead, the aftermath of that game became the foundation for yesterday's ninth-inning stand by closer Mike Timlin.

Timlin ignited Friday's rally by allowing a home run to Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neill and a single to Bernie Williams. Hargrove removed him in favor of rookie left-hander B.J. Ryan, who then surrendered a walk and game-winning home run without retiring a hitter.

Timlin sought out Hargrove right after Friday's game, speaking with him for about five minutes before the clubhouse opened.

"I wanted him to know what I was thinking," said Timlin. "I told him what I was thinking and he responded to that. That was part of the convesation."

Hargrove told Timlin he wanted to see the confident, straight-ahead pitcher who dominated opponents in spring training, the pitcher who had not resurfaced since going on the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle to start the season.

"That's what I was looking to see. That's what I saw in spring training," Hargrove said of yesterday's one-hit, two-strikeout ninth inning.

What began as a disastrous weekend might have brought Hargrove another believer. Timlin spoke through clenched teeth after Friday's loss but yesterday expressed appreciation for his manager's blunt words. "It always helps to get things off your chest," Timlin said. "Every manager you play for says, `Well, I've got an open-door policy.' Some guys say that and it's a ball of crap. You never go in there."

Hargrove told his closer he wanted to see more "fire" from him.

Yesterday, Timlin began his outing with five strikes and shed any resemblance to a pitcher afraid of getting hurt. Instead, he looked like the pitcher who salvaged last season by converting 18 of 19 save chances while compiling a 1.40 ERA after the All-Star break.

"After the All-Star break, it was just a matter of saying to heck with it, `Either you're going to hit my pitches or I'm going to get you out.' That's exactly what I did. I attacked," he said.

The Orioles did everything well early. Starting pitcher Sidney Ponson retired the first 11 hitters he faced. Ripken homered in the second inning to open the scoring, then made a diving catch-and-throw from his knees to defuse a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Second baseman Delino DeShields added to a marvelous series with a leadoff homer that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Catcher Charles Johnson began a three-single day to end a 7-for-42 funk. Ryan stiffed the Yankees after Ricky Ledee led off the seventh inning with a triple to center that tied up Anderson.

DeShields completed a breakout series in which he went7-for-13 withsix runs,four RBIs, a stolen base and13 total bases. He's 19-for-41 in his last 11 games.

DeShields refused to comment, as did Belle.

Harold Baines'two-out double in the eighth provided the Orioles a 4-2 cushion; however, the game turned when Ryan returned to pitch a second inning.

A leadoff walk to Tino Martinez and a double into the right-field corner by Friday hero Jorge Posada chased Ryan. Mike Trombley then entered to walk designated hitter Shane Spencer after leading, 1-2, in the count.

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