Even struggling O's on the rise

Bordick, Fordyce, Hairston give bottom of order spark

May 06, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

To a baseball cynic, the bottom third of the Orioles' batting order would have qualified as a Murderers' Row yesterday only because of the rallies it has killed.

Shortstop Mike Bordick, again hitting seventh, carried a .153 average into the series finale against Kansas City. Catcher Brook Fordyce still was 12 points away from reaching .100. And second baseman Jerry Hairston was stuck at .200, making him the envy of the two batters ahead of him.

As the Orioles completed their sweep of the Royals, creating their first winning record since their Opening Day win, they could find more satisfaction in the clutch sixth-inning single from Bordick, the latest two-hit game from Fordyce and the loud outs from Hairston that indicated he, too, appears ready to bust loose.

Give starter Calvin Maduro his props for holding the Royals to one earned run over 6 1/3 innings. Fawn over rookie Rick Bauer, who again held up under the strain of a pressure-filled appearance by striking out two batters in the seventh to preserve a 3-2 lead. Raise the roof over Jeff Conine's game-tying two-run homer and the ease in which closer Jorge Julio picked up his sixth save. But don't ignore the bottom third.

Bordick went 3-for-4 to leave his average at .180. With the go-ahead run at second base and two outs in the sixth, he looped a single into left-center field off Kansas City starter Chris George to break the tie.

"I didn't really know what they were going to do," he said. "I didn't know whether they were going to try to pitch around me. Of course, I'm hitting like .140 so they're probably not. They threw two balls and then a low strike, and I was like, `What the heck, be aggressive.' And I got a pitch that he left up a little bit. He made a mistake and I was able to find a hole."

It's been a slow, grinding process for Bordick to add some bulk to his average. He was down to .111 on April 21, never a comfortable predicament when you're a soon-to-be 37-year-old shortstop coming off shoulder surgery.

"Obviously, there's still a ways to go, but when you hit a little ground ball and it hits off the pitcher's hand and it's a hit, that's a good sign," he said, referring to an eighth-inning single. "But you just keep working at it. You keep plugging away and try to help your team win that night.

"The numbers for me aren't going to be there for a while because I dug myself a hole, but you keep plugging away."

Fordyce is 4-for-7 in his past two games, giving him five hits on the season and lifting his average to .132. He'll sit tonight when Izzy Molina gets his first Orioles start.

"I had a couple of hits," Fordyce said before deflecting the attention elsewhere. "But the fact of the matter is, the pitchers have been throwing well and keeping us in ballgames. That's my main concern right now. My hitting is going to be there or not be there. That's not going to help us win, but hopefully my calling a game and working with the pitchers will."

Hairston reached once by walking, and also lined to first, drilled a ball back to the pitcher and lined out to right-center field. He was robbed of a hit Saturday when Fordyce, holding up to make sure the ball dropped in right field, was forced at second.

"Jerry's swinging the bat well, though he didn't get any hits," Hargrove said. "He's giving us good at-bats and good swings, as is Fordyce. We've got guys who are starting to swing the bats. The cream always rises to the top. You just wonder how tall the glass is sometimes."

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