Scrappy O's beat throw, Indians, 4-3

Conine legs out 2nd RBI in 10th after Orioles rally from 2 runs down in 8th

Ponson, Julio retire 16 in a row

Hairston, Mora, Matthews stir attack as O's post 11th come-from-behind win

May 08, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Those scrappy Orioles struck again last night.

Down by two runs in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles rallied to tie the game, then won it on Jeff Conine's run-scoring groundout in the 10th inning.

Sidney Ponson pitched eight strong innings and combined with Jorge Julio to retire the final 16 Cleveland hitters, as the Orioles pulled out a 4-3 victory before 26,455 at Camden Yards.

In posting their 11th come- from-behind victory of the season, the Orioles (17-16) won for the 13th time in their past 18 games to move back over .500. Tonight, they will send Scott Erickson to the mound looking to win another series.

"It's a good win." said manager Mike Hargrove. "Anytime you can beat a team like the Indians, it's good, and it makes you feel good about what you do."

With one out in the 10th, Jerry Hairston reached on his third infield single of the game. Melvin Mora followed with another infield hit, and Gary Matthews singled to left field, loading the bases.

Conine followed with a grounder toward the hole between second and third. Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel reached for the ball and threw to second baseman Ricky Gutierrez for the first out, and Conine beat the relay throw to first base.

Conine was happy to get a piece of the ball against reliever Mark Wohlers. "It was a nasty forkball." he said of the ball he hit. "He's got one of the best forkballs I've ever seen."

On Monday night, the Orioles erased an early four-run deficit but caught a couple bad breaks as the Indians pulled away for a 9-4 victory.

This time, Paul Shuey relieved Indians starter Chuck Finley to start the eighth inning, and Hairston led off with an infield hit that rolled down the third base line.

Mora followed with a single, and Matthews came to the plate, trying to move the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. But he couldn't get the bunt down, and with two strikes, he stroked a single to right field, scoring Hairston and moving Mora to third base.

"I was up there to bunt." Matthews said. "It's a play where you almost look like a bonehead even though you get a hit."

Conine then grounded to third baseman Travis Fryman, who threw to second base for the first out of a possible double play, but Gutierrez dropped the ball, allowing Mora to score the tying run.

Julio (2-0) came on to pitch and retired all six batters he faced in the ninth and 10th innings. In the ninth, Julio breezed through the middle of Cleveland's order. He blew a fastball by Jim Thome, Fryman grounded out, and former Oriole Brady Anderson whiffed for his fourth strikeout of the game.

Ponson pitched a season-high eight innings, holding the Indians to three runs on five hits. He retired the final 10 batters he faced.

He had won his previous two starts against the Kansas City Royals.

The last time Ponson won three consecutive starts came in May 1999, when he defeated the Texas Rangers twice and the Anaheim Angels once.

Indians starter Finley held the Orioles to one run on seven hits over seven innings. The Orioles managed at least one hit against him in each of the first five innings but managed only the one run.

The Orioles scored first, as Matthews tripled into the left-center-field gap in the first inning and scored on Conine's run-scoring single.

Cleveland tied the game 1-1 in the third inning, when Ponson walked the No. 9 batter, Einar Diaz, with a full count. Vizquel, the perennial Gold Glove-winning shortstop who has been equally effective at the plate this season, singled.

With two outs, Matt Lawton scored Diaz with an opposite- field single to left.

Ponson retired the side in the fourth inning, but Russell Branyan led off the fifth inning with a home run. With a full count, Ponson threw a pitch low and away, and Branyan sent it over the left-field fence.

Branyan, Cleveland's No. 8 hitter, has seven home runs and a team-high 36 strikeouts.

With two outs, Ponson had more trouble with two strikes, as Gutierrez drove a 1-2 curve ball over the left-field wall for another home run.

Four of the seven home runs Ponson has allowed this season have come with two strikes.

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