Orioles put deep hurting on A's, 11-3

Hosts claim O's run up score as Singleton, Gil, Cordova homer in rout

Stolen base brings hit by pitch

Hargrove denies charge

A's lose 7th straight series

May 24, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Who said this had to be so tough?

The Orioles finished the first leg in a 16-game stretch against last year's playoff teams yesterday with a win so lopsided, the Oakland Athletics thought they were running up the score.

Chris Singleton, Geronimo Gil and Marty Cordova hit home runs as the Orioles took the rubber match of this three-game series with an 11-3 victory at Network Associates Coliseum.

Nothing has come easy for the Orioles over the past three weeks, so they seemed to need this, especially with 13 more games coming against the A's, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. The Orioles hadn't won a game by more than two runs since May 4, when they topped Kansas City, 10-0.

More impressively, they did most of their damage against Oakland pitcher Mark Mulder, who went 21-8 a year ago and finished runner-up in the Cy Young voting. Mulder (2-4) hasn't been the same pitcher this season, and it showed again in his third start since he spent a month on the disabled list with a strained left forearm.

Mulder allowed seven runs, though only four were earned, in 4 2/3 innings, leaving his ERA at 6.96.

"It didn't look like he had quite the velocity he's had in the past," said Singleton, who gave the Orioles the lead with a three-run homer in the second. "He wasn't quite as sharp."

Collectively, the A's look rather dull these days, with 15 losses in their past 19 games. They have dropped seven consecutive series, which is the first time that's happened to Oakland since 1994.

The frustration seemed to boil over in the eighth inning, when A's pitcher Mike Magnante was ejected for hitting Singleton with a fastball in the hip. Singleton had stolen second base two innings earlier, with the Orioles leading 7-1.

"The message was sent," said Oakland manager Art Howe.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove later defended the decision to have Singleton steal second.

"We're not in the business of trying to show people up, and Art knows me well enough to know that," Hargrove said. "We're just trying to get the win, and if they took it that way, it certainly was not intended as piling on."

Singleton didn't look capable of making anybody this mad last month. He hit .165 during April but has turned into a hitting machine during May. He has a 12-game hitting streak, one shy of his career high, and has lifted his average to .253.

After sitting the left-handed-hitting Singleton against most left-handed starters this season, Hargrove kept Singleton in the lineup against left-hander Mulder. With two outs in the second inning, Singleton pulled a fastball over the right-field wall for a 3-1 Orioles lead.

"I feel comfortable," Singleton said. "I feel like I've got a good foundation. I'm putting in a lot of hard work, and things are finally starting to go."

The Orioles entrusted that early lead to Sidney Ponson, who had blown 3-0 leads against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in each of his past two starts. Ponson struggled again, throwing 113 pitches in six innings, but he held the A's to two runs on five hits.

Afterward, Ponson lamented his inability to give an exhausted bullpen more rest. Rick Bauer and Willis Roberts finished the game for the Orioles.

"It was a little better than my last start," Ponson said. "But I'm here to pitch seven, eight innings. Not six."

Gil added to the Orioles' cushion with a home run off Mulder in the fourth inning, giving him seven for the season. Gil also singled and doubled, raising his average to .300.

The Orioles broke things open with three unearned runs off Mulder in the fifth. After an error by A's second baseman Randy Velarde, Jay Gibbons delivered a two-out, two-run single for a 7-1 lead, which Hargrove mentioned as the game's key hit.

"We swung the bats well," said Hargrove, whose team had 14 hits, their most since April 28. "It was obvious Mulder wasn't on his game today, and we took advantage."

After Magnante hit Singleton with a pitch, the Orioles didn't retaliate with a beanball of their own. Cordova seemed to take out the revenge with a three-run homer off A's reliever Mike Holtz.

Said Cordova: "It was good to have a game where we could really relax and didn't have to stress going into the ninth."

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Seattle Mariners

Site:Safeco Field, Seattle

Time:10:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Scott Erickson (3-4, 4.11) vs. Mariners' Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.84)

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