O's get under Angel wings

Orioles' 6-4 victory marked by disputes, hit batters, leg whip

Team's first series sweep

Offense clicking, O's two under .500 for 1st time since May 2

May 25, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The waiver deadline may not be the only thing the Orioles remember about late July. They and the Anaheim Angels could then address some unfinished business.

The Angels left for Tampa Bay last night in a foul mood. Even with a 6-4 win, the Orioles had issues of their own.

In a makeup of Tuesday night's rainout, starter Jason Johnson (4-2) and two relievers completed the Orioles' first sweep of the season while extending a winning streak to three for the third time. For the Angels, it was already a bad air day as they had privately complained about the game being played yesterday instead of on their return July 20-23. Rescheduling at night on what otherwise was to be a day off in St. Petersburg, Fla., only added to the Left Coasters' aggravation.

Rookie left fielder Jay Gibbons' second major-league home run - a three-run shot off Angels starter Ramon Ortiz (3-4) in the second inning - and second baseman Jerry Hairston's triple during a two-run sixth continued a stretch in which the Orioles have won with hitting.

And getting hit.

The win lifted the Orioles to 22-24, two games below .500 for the first time since May 2 and within four games of the division lead for the first time since April 17. For those with long memories, it also included a continuation of Wednesday afternoon's plunkings.

Once more, the Orioles inadvertently fired the first shot when Johnson hit Tim Salmon in the second inning. Once again, the Angels fired back by hitting Gibbons in his plate appearance after the home run. Ortiz later drilled first baseman David Segui in the fifth inning. The infuriated Segui then leg-whipped Angels shortstop David Eckstein on an inning-ending force play in the fifth.

"It wasn't a dirty play. That's the way you play the game," Segui said.

Segui took his position while verbally sparring with the Angels' bench.

"[They were] yelling from the dugout. Exactly. It's always the guys not playing who're yelling," Segui said. "Guys get emotional during the game. I play that way. Junior was talking about playing Oakland one time when he got drilled. He came around on a double and crushed the catcher. It's how you respond to the situation - with a clean play."

Of the pitch that hit him, Segui said: "I wasn't expecting to get hit. I don't think he was trying to hit me, to be honest. He was trying to come up and in. But he hit me.

"That's part of baseball. Guys get silly sometimes or childish. It's part of the game," Segui said. "I don't know about their situation. I know about our situation. They have a fiery manager, [Mike] Scioscia. He's going to do whatever he needs to do to motivate their club. They've got a good club with some really good hitters."

The dispute only extended the visitors' run of sniping that earlier involved plate umpire Bill Welke and crew chief John Hirschbeck. Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was ejected between the first and second innings after arguing about a called strikeout of first baseman Wally Joyner. Joyner then got himself tossed for jawing with Welke during his next at-bat.

The Angels complained throughout the series as manager Scioscia was convinced that Orioles rookie Willis Roberts intentionally threw at leadoff hitter Eckstein on Wednesday. Both pitchers were warned against retaliation in the second inning and a heated situation never ignited.

"We're playing them seven more times this year?" Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said, referring to the Segui play. "Who knows? "I don't think that was necessary. I don't know what his intentions were. It wasn't an automatic play. But it also wasn't necessary. [Segui] had a right to get mad with the way guys were getting thrown at, especially around the head.

An inexperienced team can be defeated numerous ways. Intimidation is sometimes among them. The Orioles have been hit a league-high 32 times this season while hitting opponents just 21 times. They've been hit eight times in the past five games.

Johnson continued this season's flawless run at Camden Yards, winning for the fourth time in six home starts. He is 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA at home, a massive upgrade from last season when he was 0-8 with a 7.32 ERA in the shadow of the warehouse.

Johnson wasn't flawless but decisively outpitched Ortiz. The Angels took a brief 1-0 lead in the second inning when helped by Johnson hit Salmon on an 0-2 pitch, pushing Garret Anderson into scoring position. The extra base became key when the two runners worked a double steal and Adam Kennedy smacked a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Orioles overtook Ortiz in the inning's bottom half when Segui walked on four pitches with one out, Cal Ripken dumped a double into shallow right field and Gibbons turned on a 1-2 pitch for a 411-foot home run.

Another mistake cost Johnson his lead in the third inning when Angels third baseman Troy Glaus crushed his fifth extra-base hit of the two-game series - a two-run homer to left field to force a 3-3 game. Glaus finished the series 5-for-8 with three doubles and two home runs.

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