Winn's homer in ninth stuns Julio, O's, 6-4

His three-run blast caps four-run inning, stops Devil Rays' 15-game skid

Julio: `Sometimes that happens'

Orioles are back at .500 after blowing 4-0 lead

Gibbons has 2 doubles

May 12, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Tampa Bay's losing streak ended last night with one monstrous swing from Randy Winn. The Orioles are waiting for the intrigue attached to David Segui's wrist injury to go away as suddenly.

With their lineup adjusted to compensate for Segui's latest absence, the Orioles took another lead into the ninth inning before Winn crushed a three-run homer off Jorge Julio with two outs to give the Devil Rays a 6-4 victory at Tropicana Field and halt their skid at 15 games.

Winn launched a 2-2 fastball from Julio (2-1), whose other blown save this season came here April 19 on a Bobby Smith homer. Strobe lights flashed around the dome as a crowd of 10,811 erupted in celebration, happy to still recognize a win after not seeing one since April 24.

No team had lost this many games in succession since the 1988 Orioles, who began the season 0-21. After concluding the series today, the Devil Rays play their own version of Survivor with trips to New York, Baltimore, Seattle and Oakland before returning home on May 28. They needed this one badly.

"I was just trying to get a hit," Winn said. "I'm just glad it went over the fence. I was hoping, praying it would go out. Honestly, I haven't hit enough home runs to know what they feel like."

The Orioles (18-18) failed to move two games above .500 for the first time since May 7, 2000. They scored three runs in the fourth, with the first five batters reaching against Devil Rays starter Tanyon Sturtze, and tacked on another run in the fifth. Jay Gibbons doubled in both innings, barely missing home runs.

Three singles in the ninth, including an infield hit by Chris Gomez, reduced the Orioles' lead to 4-3. John Flaherty had bunted into a force at third, with Jeff Conine making the throw after diving for the ball and trapping it, but Brent Abernathy's two-out hit closed the gap and put the winning run on base. Julio wanted to throw a slider to Winn, but stayed with his fastball after missing on a 1-2 pitch.

"He seemed fine. Winn just caught up to the fastball. If we're in that situation again, Julio will still be out there," manager Mike Hargrove said.

"Sometimes that happens in a game," said Julio, whose ERA rose from 0.96 to 2.79. "You can't pitch good every time out there. Tomorrow is another day."

It likely will pass without Segui, who has missed six of the past eight games with a painful left wrist that no longer can be downplayed as merely sore. Player and club should at least agree on this point.

He grimaced and flinched during his first plate appearance on Wednesday, once releasing the bat after fouling off a pitch. He went 0-for-3 with a run-scoring groundout on Friday before Hargrove sent up Gary Matthews as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

The Orioles continue to list Segui's health issues as a bruised tendon and an injury to the "ligament complex," a complicated way of describing damage to the cartilage. They're hoping to avoid the disabled list and possible surgery, with Segui's pain threshold and performance determining any course of action in the future.

It's probable that Segui, who says the tendon is torn, won't play again today when the teams conclude the three-game series. An open date tomorrow gives him more recovery time, but he also could miss Tuesday's game in Cleveland. Hargrove described Segui's status as "truly a day-to-day thing."

"David's no worse than he was when he started the game. It's a day off, maybe a couple days off, maybe three. We'll see," Hargrove said.

"It was obvious that the wrist was bothering him [Friday] night, and it wasn't fair to him or the ballclub to ask him to perform under those circumstances."

Segui was scratched from the May 3 lineup because of recurring pain in the wrist stemming from on an incident at home plate April 26 in Kansas City. His hand was pinned by catcher Brent Mayne's shin guard as he attempted a headfirst slide.

"He played the other day and swung the bat OK. Not like he can. But last night it was obvious very early on that the wrist was bothering him a lot, more so than it had, from appearances, the other day," Hargrove said.

"The doctor said that David could play to pain. To me, it means that it sounds like some days it's going to be worse than others. Yesterday wasn't a good day. It may come to the point where he can't [play] at all. We'll discuss that if it happens."

Tampa Bay trailed 4-0 before reaching Calvin Maduro for a run in the fifth when Abernathy's one-out triple scored Flaherty. Winn walked to bring up the tying run, but Steve Cox swung at the first pitch and grounded into a double play.

Maduro, who walked five and threw only 37 strikes among his 74 pitches, didn't come out for the sixth. Rick Bauer allowed a run in the seventh to reduce the lead to 4-2, but Buddy Groom struck out Greg Vaughn to end the eighth after Cox singled.

The Orioles almost built on their lead with two outs in the seventh, but Jason Conti ran down Conine's fly ball on the warning track before crashing into the fence. Conine, who had two hits, also flied out to center in the ninth to strand two runners.

Then came Julio's insertion, Winn's mighty hack, and the expiration of a long losing streak.

"I thought he had his normal stuff tonight," Conine said.

For Tampa, there was nothing normal about the ending.

Orioles today

Opponent:Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site:Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time:1:15 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (2-2, 4.34) vs. Devil Rays' Paul Wilson (1-3, 3.77)

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