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, manager Mike Hargrove went with his heart every time last night at Camden Yards. The Toronto Blue Jays benefited from no such ambivalence and took a 7-6 win before a crowd of 33,705 who cheered another retiring performance by Cal Ripken, applauded an unexpected reunion of father and son and winced at a three-hitter meltdown by a tired reliever.

The Orioles blew four leads and were finally beaten by third baseman Felipe Lopez's bases-loaded triple in the eighth inning against rookie Jorge Julio, but he only held his predecessor's mop.

Trying to help Buddy Groom to a sixth straight 70-appearance season, Hargrove summoned him two days after he had worked two innings. Groom (1-4) surrendered three hits without retiring a hitter in the Blue Jays' three-run eighth. Groom needs three appearances in four remaining games to retain his streak.

The Orioles' 10 hits did not include any from third baseman Cal Ripken, whose weeklong slump reached 0-for-32 with an 0-for-3 against three Blue Jays pitchers.

Yesterday's surprise trade for Montreal Expos outfielder Tim Raines allowed a father and son to play together on the same field for only the second time in the game's history. Tim Raines Jr. had two hits, a stolen base and scored three times, while his father lined out and drove in the game's final run after entering the seventh inning as a pinch hitter.

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 of him as a hitter or fielder and others of him as a father's son. There is the predictable stuff of a 21-year career and the powerful images of a family video or a scalloped, fading photograph.

Is it any surprise he endures the longest hitless streak of his career, for it must be hard swinging a bat while flipping through the book of one's life.

The game has refused to conspire with a productive finish. Ripken's 0-for-4 on Tuesday included three line drives and one diving catch. He began last night 0-for-29 since Sept. 25 - tied for the longest drought of his career. He rallied from an 0-2 count to walk in the second inning.

After again tumbling behind Pascual Coco, 0-2, in the fourth, Ripken sent a smash toward third base, where Lopez waited. Ripken fleshed out his night by fouling to third base and popping out to shortstop.

Ripken was batting a season-high .276 as recently as Aug. 17 and .261 before entering his offensive tailspin. He had struck out 17 times in his past 61 at-bats before last night.

The Orioles will begin their three-day farewell to Ripken about 30 minutes before tonight's game. Ripken will be presented some gifts and recognized on the matrix. Rather than playing before an often distracted, two-thirds-filled Camden Yards, he will find an expectant, soldout venue.

Sentiment didn't wait for tonight. Approached by the Expos the day before, the Orioles yesterday acquired 42-year-old outfielder Raines in return for a player to be named or cash.

The Orioles benefited from a gesture by the franchise that had retired the elder Raines' number several years ago. The move brought the former All-Star into the same clubhouse as his son, Tim Jr., allowing them to become the second father-son combination to play alongside each other. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. are the others.

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.

Aware that the club resisted a similar move with rookie outfielder Larry Bigbie (hamstring) and first baseman David Segui, who has appeared in only one game since Aug. 23, Kinkade sought an immediate audience with Hargrove and vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift.

Raines Jr., a projected leadoff hitter who reached Baltimore after beginning the season at Class A Frederick, energized the first inning with a leadoff double, took third base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on first baseman Jeff Conine's sacrifice fly. Raines Jr. helped the Orioles to a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning by starting a two-run rally with a one-out single followed by his first major-league stolen base.

Followed by the same tendencies that have sabotaged his second half, Orioles starting pitcher Jason Johnson was unable to hold the lead, just as he couldn't protect a 1-0 and 2-1 edge earlier.

The Orioles reclaimed the lead, 5-4, in the seventh when father and son appeared on the field at the same time only hours after the elder Raines arrived at Camden Yards after a flight from Miami. Raines Jr. opened the seventh inning with a walk, was again bunted to second base by Luis Matos and watched as Conine was intentionally walked to reach left-handed-hitting Chris Richard. Hargrove countered with the switch-hitting Raines. He lined out to right field in his first American League at-bat since 1999. Shortstop Tony Batista's two-out bloop double to right field then scored Raines Jr. to give the Orioles their fourth lead.

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