A's burn cooked O's, 7-6

Starter Maduro endures 5-run 2nd in loss after staff goes 14 innings night before

Newcomer Roberts sparks attack

3 RBI Singleton thrown out at 2nd, 3rd, home as O's lose seventh in past nine

May 23, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - It took the Orioles 14 innings to defeat the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night and two innings to put themselves in a huge hole yesterday.

On a day they needed starting pitcher Calvin Maduro at his best, he had quite a bit less, and a productive offensive effort came up short in a 7-6 loss at Network Associates Coliseum.

The A's scored five runs against Maduro in the second inning, and Orioles manager Mike Hargrove had no choice but to leave him in the game because, as he said, "we cooked the bullpen pretty good [Tuesday] night."

Maduro managed to keep things from getting ugly, and Sean Douglass shook off the rust from a 15-day layoff to keep things interesting into the late innings. Ultimately, Oakland needed a clutch hit in the eighth inning from Eric Byrnes to help secure its fourth victory in the past 18 games.

Winless in his past three starts, Maduro (2-4) was kicking himself afterward for the five-run second inning, especially the three-run homer by longtime minor-leaguer Larry Sutton that gave the Athletics a 5-1 lead.

"They're a high-ball hitting club," Maduro said, "and my fastball stayed up all day."

Hargrove juggled his lineup and saw some good results. Batting second as the designated hitter, Brian Roberts made his season debut and spent the day buzzing around the bases. He went 1-for-1 with two walks, two runs, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly.

Before the game, Hargrove said Roberts will be replacing Jerry Hairston as the team's regular second baseman. For now, that move seems to have given the Orioles' lineup a spark.

Chris Singleton, batting third for the first time this season, also had an interesting day. Besides having three RBIs, he was thrown out on separate plays at third base, home plate and second base. It was a sign of how aggressive the Orioles were on the bases all afternoon.

"It was weird," Singleton said. "I almost went for the cycle on the basepaths."

Singleton's two-run, two-out single in the fifth inning trimmed Oakland's lead to 6-5, prompting A's manager Art Howe to pull starter Erik Hiljus.

Mike Fyhrie entered with a 6.41 ERA but blanked the Orioles for the next 2 1/3 innings. Jim Mecir, who pitched two innings in Tuesday's marathon, held the Orioles scoreless in the eighth, and then Oakland added a key insurance run.

Hargrove summoned Buddy Groom with two on and one out in the eighth inning. In one of the more remarkable feats of the season, Groom had retired all 12 of his inherited runners, but this time Byrnes delivered a two-out single to center, scoring Miguel Tejada.

"That's the only one of the year," Groom said. "This late in May, I'll take that any time. I made a bad pitch. That's going to happen."

With a two-run lead heading into the ninth, Howe turned to closer Billy Koch, who pitched three scoreless innings and threw 38 pitches Tuesday night. Jay Gibbons led off the inning with a double and scored on a throwing error by Tejada, the shortstop.

Hargrove used three pinch hitters to end the game, but after Luis Garcia reached second base on Tejada's error, Gary Matthews flied out to center and Ryan McGuire struck out to end the game.

Considering the Orioles were back on the field less than 13 hours after winning a game that ended in the wee hours of yesterday morning Baltimore time, Hargrove seemed pleased with the effort.

Maduro hasn't made it through the sixth inning in each of his past three starts, but even he righted himself long enough to make it through the fourth. Maduro allowed six runs on 10 hits, leaving his ERA at 5.18.

The Orioles have now dropped seven of their past nine games.

"We played 14 innings [Tuesday] night, and our bullpen was used extensively," Hargrove said. "We had to get innings out of our starter today. We really had to take the good with the bad, and we took it as long as we could."

Orioles today

Opponent:Oakland Athletics

Site:Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.

Time:3:35 p.m.

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

Starters:Orioles' Sidney Ponson (2-3, 4.63) vs. Athletics' Mark Mulder (2-3, 6.83)

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