Orioles blow 4 leads in 7-6 loss

Jays rally for victory

Ripken goes 0-for-3

hitless streak at 32

Groom takes the loss

Raines Sr., Raines Jr. play on same field after earlier trade

October 04, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Torn between emotion and cool logic, the Orioles led with their heart last night at Camden Yards. The Toronto Blue Jays benefited from no such ambivalence and took a 7-6 win before a surprisingly mellow crowd of 33,705, who cheered another retiring performance by third baseman Cal Ripken, applauded an unexpected reunion of father and son and winced at a three-hitter meltdown by a tired reliever.

The Orioles (63-94) squandered four leads and were finally beaten by third baseman Felipe Lopez's bases-loaded triple in the eighth inning against rookie Jorge Julio. Striving for a sixth straight 70-appearance season, left-hander Buddy Groom (1-4) allowed three consecutive hits to begin the inning.

Ripken was 0-for-3 and is now 0-for-his-last-32.

The signature moment arrived in the seventh inning when Tim Raines Sr. and Tim Raines Jr. stepped on the field for the same team. The Orioles traded for Raines Sr. from the Montreal Expos earlier in the day.

Pairing Raines Sr. with his 22-year-old son marked the second time a father and son have played together in a major-league game.

"We've never played together," Raines Sr. said. "This is something a father dreams about. It's always intrigued both of us. To be in the history books now with the Griffeys is something special."

Said Blue Jays closer Billy Koch, who pitched the ninth inning for his 100th career save: "It's not every day for that matter that you get to pitch to a father and a son in the same inning. That was way above cool."

The Orioles had to satisfy themselves with history as starting pitcher Jason Johnson failed to hold three leads before Groom ignited the telling three-run eighth. The turnaround marked the seventh time this season the Orioles have lost when leading after the seventh inning.

"This was a game you describe as awesome," Lopez said. "There was history everywhere with both Raines, father and son ... and Cal playing."

Said Blue Jays center fielder Jose Cruz Jr., whose father, Jose, long served as the Houston Astros' offensive centerpiece and competed against the elder Raines: "This was a special game in a lot of ways. Seeing Tim Raines Sr. watching and then getting into the game with his son was something special. "

Cruz Jr. forced a 4-4 tie and chased Johnson with his two-run homer in the sixth inning. The hit set a franchise record as Cruz has now homered in five consecutive games.

The Blue Jays didn't know Raines was available until he stepped from the well to pinch hit for cleanup hitter Chris Richard in the seventh inning. Raines lined out to right field with his son standing on second base.

The chapter continues tonight as Hargrove intends to start the father in left field next to his son in center.

"I've got straightaway left field and the line. He's got the rest," Raines Sr. quipped.

The younger Raines arrived after a sprint through the organization this season. He began at Class A Frederick and finished at Triple-A Rochester. Last night marked his first multi-hit major-league game in addition to a stolen base and three runs scored.

Raines Sr. arrived with 2,585 career hits in 2,400 games and 808 stolen bases, fifth-most in major-league history. The seven-time All-Star hit .308 in 78 at-bats this season for the Expos and hopes to play next season. He lined out in the seventh inning and produced the game's final run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly.

The only fallout from the move was the team placing outfielder Mike Kinkade on the 60-day disabled list without his consent. Kinkade, bothered by a right hand injury sustained on Aug. 23, learned of the move from a reporter about an hour after the club issued a press release disclosing the moves. Kinkade sought an immediate audience with Hargrove and vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift. "There was a little miscommunication," Kinkade said afterward.

Groom took the loss by allowing three consecutive hits when appearing two days after pitching two innings in the series opener.

Hargrove insisted neither Groom's appearance nor Ripken's continued presence in the starting lineup is due to special circumstances.

Groom needs three appearances in three days to secure 70 appearances. "I've told Buddy before we'll try to get that record for him, but it's got to fit in the context of winning a ballgame," Hargrove said.

Isolated before thousands while the hourglass drains, Ripken finds himself alone with his memories between every inning as the stadium matrix shows clips of his life and times supported by stirring music. Between warm-up tosses to first base, he glances at the tributes, some picturing him as a hitter or fielder and others of him as a father's son.

The Orioles will begin their three-day farewell to Ripken about 30 minutes before tonight's game against the Boston Red Sox.

An unforgiving game has refused him a productive finish. Ripken's 0-for-4 on Tuesday included three line drives and one diving catch. He began last night's game 0-for-29 since Sept. 25 - tied for the longest drought of his major-league career - before enduring three more hitless at-bats. His average now at .243, Ripken was batting a season-high .276 as recently as Aug. 17 and .261 before entering his offensive tailspin Sept. 23.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

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

Starters: Red Sox's Hideo Nomo (12-10, 4.52) vs. Orioles' Calvin Maduro (5-6, 4.23)

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