Indians' hop bounces O's in 9-4 defeat

Bad hop breaks 4-4 tie in 8th, followed by homer as O's streak ends at 4

Appeal denies O's go-ahead run

After Bordick handcuffed, Groom yields rare homer

May 07, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Last night's game at Camden Yards included an unsuccessful attempt to steal home, a game-tying three-run triple and a disputed appeal play that wiped away the Orioles' go-ahead run.

But the thing the Orioles will remember most is one bad hop.

They erased a four-run deficit against the Cleveland Indians and had that work spoiled when a two-out grounder by Jolbert Cabrera took a funny bounce and deflected off the glove of Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick.

That scored former Oriole Brady Anderson from second base, and Russell Branyan followed with a two-run homer off Buddy Groom. The Indians kept pulling away for a 9-4 victory, which broke the Orioles' four- game winning streak.

Had Bordick been able to make the play, the Orioles would have been heading to the bottom of the eighth with the score 4-4. Instead, the Indians scored three runs off Groom (1-1), who had allowed just one run all season and hadn't allowed a home run since July 17, 2001.

"A bad hop is what it was." Bordick said. "It must have hit something in the grass. It doesn't happen here very often. It's unfortunate it happened to Buddy. He made a good pitch, and he would have been out of the inning."

The Orioles trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, but Jay Gibbons halted Cleveland's momentum the next half-inning, hitting a one-out home run to right field. It was Gibbons' first home run and first RBI since April 20, a span of 52 at-bats.

In the fifth, Indians leadoff batter Omar Vizquel tried stealing home with two outs and a 2-1 count to Travis Fryman. Orioles starter Sean Douglass quickly stepped off the rubber and fired to catcher Izzy Molina in time to catch Vizquel.

The Orioles went right to work in the bottom of the inning, as Bordick led off with a double, and Molina followed with an infield single. Jerry Hairston moved the runners to second and third with a grounder to first, then Melvin Mora loaded the bases with another infield single.

Chris Singleton entered the at-bat hitting just .170, but he has always been a threat with the bases loaded, and he delivered a three-run triple to right field, tying the score 4-4.

Then came the game's most controversial play.

Jeff Conine hit a fly ball to shallow right field, and Indians second baseman Ricky Gutierrez backed up on the ball, but Lawton called him off.

Singleton tagged from third base and raced home ahead of Lawton's throw. It was a gutsy play, and the Orioles celebrated because they thought they had the lead. Douglass appeared to be in line for his first victory, but before the crowd stopped cheering, the Indians appealed the play, and Singleton was called out for leaving third base too early.

To appeal the play, Indians pitcher Ryan Drese (3-3) stepped off the rubber and threw to third baseman Fryman. Clearly displeased, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove went out to discuss the call with third base umpire Paul Emmel, but the play stood.

"I can't comment on the judgment." Singleton said afterward. "I don't want to get in trouble. There was never a question. I had no inkling there'd be an appeal and I'd be called out."

Hargrove was more to the point. "I think he didn't leave too soon." he said. "I think he was OK."

Split-screen television replays showed Singleton waiting until the ball entered Lawton's glove before leaving third base.

In the ninth, Lawton hit a two-run homer off Orioles reliever Travis Driskill, giving Cleveland a five-run lead. The Orioles bullpen, which entered the game 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA, took the loss, giving up five runs in four innings.

Douglass, who didn't make it through the fourth inning in his first two starts, pitched five innings this time, and allowed four runs on seven hits.

He cruised through the first three innings, allowing just two hits. He faced 10 batters in that stretch and threw seven of them first-pitch strikes.

Hargrove said one of Douglass' problems from his first two starts was not throwing enough strikes, but the rookie was better this time - for three innings.

The Indians started the fourth with five consecutive hits. Douglass began leaving pitches over the plate, and Cleveland pounced. Gutierrez singled, and Lawton singled past a lunging Bordick, as that ball deflect off his glove as well.

At that point, Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley paid a visit to Douglass.

Whatever was said didn't help. Douglass' next pitch was up in the strike zone, and Jim Thome deposited it into the center-field seats for his eighth homer of the season, a three-run shot.

Cleveland wasn't done. Fryman and Anderson both singled, and Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

To his credit, Douglass faced runners at the corners with none out after Thome's home run, and Cleveland scored just one more run.

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