Sox pound O's, Bauer

Rookie gives up six in third

O's can't recover, 9-6

Bauer drops to 0-3

Team bats around in five-run seventh, but rally falls short

September 27, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Being around the plate is fine for a pitcher until he begins catching too much of it. That's when an inning speeds out of control, an appearance is cut short and a game ultimately is lost.

Making only his fourth major-league start, the Orioles' Rick Bauer learned this hard truth last night while the Boston Red Sox were sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs in the third, producing a rare victory, 9-6, at Fenway Park. They had dropped 18 of 22.

The Red Sox strung together six consecutive hits to break a 1-1 tie and keep Bauer winless since joining the Orioles when rosters expanded this month. Bauer (0-3) got the last out after allowing six runs, but didn't surface for the fourth. He watched from the dugout as the Orioles homered twice in the seventh to narrow the gap.

Facing someone almost as inexperienced, the Orioles were late getting to Boston left-hander Casey Fossum, making his sixth start above Triple-A. He retired 14 in a row after Brook Fordyce's run-scoring single in the second inning. The streak was broken by Tony Batista's second double, giving him seven consecutive multi-hit games.

Each start has brought a unique challenge to Bauer. He's been confronted twice by the Seattle Mariners, who carry the best record in baseball. His other appearance came against the New York Yankees, the three-time defending world champions. Who's next, the 1976 Cincinnati Reds?

Last night's assignment put him in Fenway Park, which always has favored the hitters and tested the confidence of a young pitcher. Bauer's introduction to the famed Green Monster came when Doug Mirabelli doubled off it with one out in the third inning. Consecutive singles by Jose Offerman and Darren Lewis moved the Red Sox ahead, 2-1, and Trot Nixon scored them both with a double to center field. The hits by Mirabelli and Offerman came on two-strike pitches. Nixon was behind 1-2.

"Here's a young guy, and he couldn't expand his zone," Fordyce said. "He couldn't make them chase a pitch and he left a lot of them over the plate and let them do something. His problem lately, and our problem, has been on two strikes, putting away people."

Manny Ramirez singled up the middle for another run, and Brian Daubach hammered Bauer's first pitch into the right-field seats. Deprived of a win in his last start when Willis Roberts blew the save, Bauer could only hope for a no-decision.

The Orioles had tied the game in the second inning when Batista doubled with one out, stole third and scored on the single by Fordyce, who passed Greg Myers for the team lead in RBIs among catchers with 19. Myers was released June 14.

A two-run homer by Mirabelli off left-hander John Parrish increased Boston's lead to 9-1 in the fifth before the Orioles rallied in the seventh. Casey Blake cleared the netting above the Green Monster after Batista's double, and Luis Matos hit a three-run shot off reliever Rich Garces.

Using his 134th different lineup in 151 games, manager Mike Hargrove gave Blake his first start as an Oriole. Blake, claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins last week, ventured outside his comfort zone at third base and replaced Jeff Conine at first.

"It was a little nerve-wracking when I saw my name in there. It's been a while," Blake said. "`After the first at-bat, I relaxed a little bit."

A brief conversation satisfied Hargrove that Blake could handle the position, though he didn't press Blake for many details.

"He said he's played there before," Hargrove said.

How long ago?

"I didn't ask him that. I just asked if he had played there before and he said, `Yes.' He's played there enough, obviously, that he can play it."

Did he have a first baseman's glove?

"I would assume so. I didn't ask him that, either."

Blake made one appearance at first base with the Twins in 2000 and three earlier this season, including his only start. His homer last night was the second of his major-league career.

No one other than Jeff Conine or David Segui had started at first for the Orioles since Jay Gibbons on June 14. Conine hadn't budged from it since Sept. 7 in Seattle, but he finished the game there when Segui aggravated a knee injury.

Segui had another magnetic resonance imaging in Baltimore this week. The Orioles didn't release the results of his latest examination, but it's believed he'll undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery today.

"I'm not sure we're ready to announce anything, so I'll hold off," Hargrove said. "It's no big deal. Nothing out of the ordinary of what we expect."

A pickoff throw from Bauer got past Blake in the first inning, allowing Offerman to score for a 1-0 lead. Bauer was charged with the error, which came after Offerman and Lewis singled with none out. It was the fifth unearned run off the rookie this month.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sean Douglass (1-1, 7.27) vs. Red Sox's Derek Lowe (4-10, 3.79)

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