O's piece together rally, 1 base at a time

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

6 runs, 1 extra-base hit

Conine rests sore foot

April 15, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Two weeks' worth of offensive frustration didn't come pouring out of the Orioles during yesterday's fourth inning. It was more like a steady trickle, which still brought the crowd to its feet once the valve had been shut off.

The Orioles scored four times in the inning, tying their highest total in 11 games, in a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Camden Yards. They strung together four straight hits, all singles, while sending a season-high nine batters to the plate.

The only other time the Orioles have scored four runs in an inning was Wednesday in Boston, when they ambushed Red Sox starter Frank Castillo in the first.

Yesterday, they peppered Devil Rays starter Paul Wilson with a series of jabs that eventually knocked him out of the game. David Segui walked with one out, and singles by Chris Richard, Greg Myers and Cal Ripken produced two runs that cut Tampa Bay's lead in half.

After a Melvin Mora single loaded the bases, Jerry Hairston was hit by a pitch to bring in another run, and a bouncer to first by Brady Anderson tied the game. Nothing earth-shattering, but for the Orioles it almost qualified as groundbreaking.

It also was the second time this season that the Orioles had collected four hits in the same inning, duplicating their output against Castillo. The six runs scored yesterday - the Orioles added two more in the fifth - were their most this season, topping the five that crossed on Wednesday.

"We'll take them any way we can get them," said manager Mike Hargrove.

Myers and Ripken had been called out on strikes in their first at-bats before pulling grounders through the infield for their RBIs in the fourth inning. Myers was making his second appearance. Ripken had been 3-for-27.

Mora showed signs of emerging from his slump by adding a run-scoring double. He hadn't started two of the last three days.

Conine out by a foot

Jeff Conine hasn't played in four of the past five games while recovering from an inflamed tendon in his right foot.

His last appearance was Wednesday in Boston, when he started in right field and went 2-for-4 with his team-leading fifth RBI. Conine is 4-for-12 in his last three games after going hitless in his first seven at-bats.

"It's something he had last year. It's a day-to-day kind of thing," Hargrove said.

Without Conine, the Orioles don't have another player who's hit a home run this season. Conine's three-run shot last Sunday in Cleveland still stands alone.

In a hurry, for now

Maybe it's the higher strike zone, or an offense that remains in a deep sleep as batters are retired in rapid succession. Or perhaps it's just an early-season fluke.

Whatever the reason, the Orioles' home games have been played at a brisk pace rarely seen in the American League. They completed all three games vs. Boston in fewer than three hours, including Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in 2:29, and finished off Friday night's 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay in 2:05.

By 2001 standards, yesterday's game dragged along. It took 3:01.

"It's nice to play quick games," Hargrove said. "Obviously I'd rather be ahead when it ended."

Are shorter games going to be the norm this year? Hargrove said it's too soon to make a judgment.

"Ten, 11 games into the season, I don't know," he said. "We saw quicker games in spring training."

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