Orioles go 14 to defeat A's, 6-4

Team can't hold 4-0 lead but recovers to earn win on Singleton's hit in 14th

O's end their two-game skid

A's lose for 14th time in past 17 games

Gil, Hairston hit home runs

May 22, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Even with the schedule showing 16 straight games against teams that made the playoffs a year ago, the Orioles looked like they barely broke a sweat last night until the late innings, when a struggling bullpen left them sweating profusely.

Again.

Rick Bauer blew a three-run, eighth-inning lead, and the Orioles needed a run-scoring single from Chris Singleton in the 14th inning to pull out a 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Network Associates Coliseum.

Rodrigo Lopez left in the seventh with a 4-1 lead and a chance to become the first Orioles rookie to start a season 6-0. But he watched from the dugout as Jeremy Giambi and Jermaine Dye homered off Bauer in the eighth.

Oakland had gone six games without a home run, but Olmedo Saenz ended that drought with a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. Giambi hit a bases-empty shot with one out in the eighth, Miguel Tejada singled, and Dye hit a two-run blast that tied the score.

After a brilliant start to the season, Bauer has allowed six earned runs in his past three outings, which have resulted in two losses and one blown save.

Orioles reliever Travis Driskill (1-0) pitched two innings for his first career victory, Mike Venafro (1-1) took the loss, and embattled Orioles closer Jorge Julio earned his ninth save.

The Orioles improved to 4-0 in extra-inning games. They also won a 14-inning game against Tampa Bay on April 19.

Lopez pitched 6 1/3 innings to lower his American League-best ERA to 1.94.

The Orioles, who arrived on the West Coast with six losses in their past seven games, figure to learn a lot about themselves during this 16-game stretch against Oakland, the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.

"It's a part of the schedule that's a little more difficult than the one we just got done with the last two weeks," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "But I don't think anyone goes holy [cow]. I didn't get that feeling when we were playing Boston and New York every day [earlier this season], and I don't get that feeling now."

Jerry Hairston and Geronimo Gil homered as the Orioles jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Barry Zito, who entered the game as Oakland's only reliable pitcher of late. Zito was 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his first three May starts and was the only starter on the staff with a win since May 2.

Zito was gone after six innings, having allowed four runs on seven hits. Starting in the fourth inning, the Orioles' bats went dead silent, as Oakland's pitchers combined to retire 19 batters in a row.

That streak ended when Hairston singled with two outs in the 11th. Hairston, whose playing time figures to suffer with the Orioles promoting second baseman Brian Roberts from Triple-A Rochester yesterday, finished the game 3-for-5.

The Orioles survived a wild 10th inning, as reliever Willis Roberts walked two batters, and B.J. Ryan walked Scott Hatteberg to load the bases. But with a 2-0 count, Saenz bounced out to shortstop, ending the threat.

Oakland doesn't appear to be the same team it was a year ago, so this 16-game stretch might look a little tougher than it is. The Athletics are now even colder than the Orioles, with 14 losses in their past 17 games.

After making the playoffs the past two seasons, Oakland finds itself sitting 10 games behind Seattle in the American League West and 11 games behind the Yankees in the wild-card race.

"There is no aspect of our game that's very good," struggling A's reliever Billy Koch told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oakland's renowned starting pitching staff has hardly been a strength. Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Zito haven't been the 1-2-3 punch they were a year ago. The starting staff's 4.96 ERA ranked 12th in the American League entering last night.

The A's chose not to re-sign first baseman Jason Giambi, outfielder Johnny Damon or closer Jason Isringhausen.

Mulder, Dye and Randy Velarde have all spent time on the disabled list, and David Justice has missed time, as well.

Oakland sent rookie first baseman Carlos Pena, second baseman Frank Menechino and reliever Jeff Tam to Triple-A Sacramento yesterday.

Orioles today

Opponent:Oakland Athletics

Site:Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.

Time:3:35

TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters:Orioles' Calvin Maduro (2-3, 4.43) vs. Athletics' Erik Hiljus (3-3, 5.45)

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