Erickson can't keep Yankees down

O's fall

Pitcher gets support this time, but squanders lead in 8-4 loss to N.Y.

Conine hits three-run homer

Wells survives 4-run 4th to turn back Orioles for second time this season

April 19, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - The Orioles have wasted two good Scott Erickson efforts this season, and last night he wasted one of theirs.

After the Orioles scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a two-run lead, Erickson gave it right back the next half-inning, when Shane Spencer hit a three- run homer to send the New York Yankees on their way to an 8-4 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Erickson (1-2) remained win less since Opening Day and lasted just 4- innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks.

David Wells (3-0) allowed four runs in eight innings, with all the runs coming in the fourth. The Orioles fell to 2-5 on their 10-game road trip, which takes them to Tampa Bay tonight. They have played five series, but have yet to win one. The Yan kees took two of three after los ing Tuesday.

And first baseman David Segui left the game in the seventh inning with a sore right knee and isn't sure if he"ll be in the lineup tonight.

"It's actually my good knee, what was my good knee." said Segui, who was limited to 82 games last year with left knee problems.

Wells held the Orioles score less for 7- innings on April 3, lifting the Yankees to a 1-0 victory. He seemed to carry that momentum into this start, retiring the first eight Orioles hitters before No. 9 batter Jerry Hairston lined a double down the right-field line.

Melvin Mora flied out to end the third inning, but the Orioles strung together four consecutive hits to start the fourth. Gary Matthews delivered his first base hit as an Oriole, and Segui followed with a single, putting runners at first and second.

Jeff Conine followed with his first home run of the season, a three-run shot that gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. With Wells in a jam, Conine got a first-pitch fastball and golfed it on a line over the left-field fence.

Tony Batista followed with an opposite-field double, Jay Gibbons moved him to third with a grounder to second, and Marty Cordova scored him with a grounder to third.

Erickson went to the mound in the fourth inning protecting a 4-2 lead. At that point, it looked like he had settled into a rhythm, but Robin Ventura drew a leadoff walk and John Vander Wal hit a one-out single, bringing Shane Spencer to the plate.

Once again, Erickson fell be hind in the count, 3-1, and Spencer crushed his next pitch for a three-run homer. Just like that, the Yankees led 5-4.

"His sinker was flat." said manager Mike Hargrove. "He couldn't get any breaking balls over. And when the pitches were down in the strike zone, they were called balls."

They extended that lead with two runs off Orioles reliever Rick Bauer in the sixth inning. Jason Giambi made it 7-4 with a two-out, run-scoring single.

Since beating the Yankees on Opening Day, Erickson had twice been the victim of tough luck. He held the Boston Red Sox to one run through the first seven innings on April 6 but gave up a three-run homer to Nomar Garciaparra in the eighth and took a 4-2 loss.

In his third start, Saturday at Chicago, he handed a 3-2 lead to the bullpen, but the White Sox came back with two eighth-inning runs off reliever Willis Roberts for a 4-3 victory.

This time it was clear from the beginning that Erickson wasn't going to be sharp.

Alfonso Soriano drilled his first pitch to center field for a single and Nick Johnson followed with a bullet to left field. Those two players, ages 24 and 23, respectively, pestered the Orioles the entire series.

Soriano had seven hits in the three games and leads the American League with 28 hits for the season. Johnson was on base seven times.

Derek Jeter followed those two with a run-scoring single in the first inning, and after Giambi grounded out, Jorge Posada made it 2-0 with another line-drive single to center.

"I threw too many balls basically - 109 pitches for five innings is really no way to get through a lineup." Erickson said.

But in the end, the Yankees owed this one to Wells, who rediscovered his rhythm after Batista's double in the fourth inning. Wells retired the next 10 batters in a row, and when Cordova interrupted that string with a bloop single to left, Wells promptly got Brook Fordyce to ground into a double play.

Wells scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter in his eight innings.

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