Rangers slip by Orioles in 9th

Catalanotto delivers RBI as Texas takes 7-6 win

Weather, O's defense sloppy

July 06, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles arrived in the Lone Star State early yesterday morning, short on sleep but long on momentum, a group that wasn't going to let some minor inconveniences interrupt their quest to reach .500.

They stood behind Jason Johnson, the one well-rested member of their traveling party, endured a 61-minute rain delay, and looked like they might dispatch the Texas Rangers the way they have dispatched so many teams of late.

But the Rangers rallied to win with two runs in the eighth inning off Willis Roberts and two runs in the ninth off Jorge Julio, sending the Orioles to a 7-6 loss at The Ballpark last night.

The Rangers, who had been 0-35 when trailing after eight innings, rallied this time and won when Frank Catalanotto hit a run-scoring single to right field off Julio, scoring Mike Lamb from second base.

The Orioles didn't arrive at their hotel until after 6 a.m. They sat on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport for 45 minutes waiting for their equipment truck to leave Edison Field after their 7-2 victory over the Anaheim Angels on Thursday.

So it would have been natural for the Orioles to show signs of grogginess, especially after the rain delay that halted play during the fourth inning.

But the Orioles took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning and had to feel confident with Roberts on the mound, and Buddy Groom and Julio still in the bullpen. What transpired had to leave that confidence shaken.

Roberts pitched a scoreless seventh inning but stumbled in the eighth, as Lamb hit a bloop single to left and Alex Rodriguez followed with a two-run homer to center field. Rodriguez drilled the 1-1 pitch from Roberts over the center-field wall for his 26th homer, matching Jim Thome for the American League home run lead.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove pulled Roberts for Groom, and then pulled Groom after he walked Rafael Palmeiro. Hargrove then summoned Julio for one of his longest save situations of the year.

Julio needed five outs for the save, something he accomplished just one other time this season, April 16 at New York. He stranded runners at the corners in the eighth inning, but found more trouble in the ninth.

Carl Everett reached on an error by first baseman Jay Gibbons, then moved to second when Julio's strike-three pitch to Michael Young got away from catcher Geronimo Gil. Lamb then singled to right field, and Rodriguez scored the tying run with a grounder to second base.

For Julio, it was his first blown save in his past nine opportunities. He has converted 17 of 22 saves this season, and this was his first blown save since June 3.

The Orioles grabbed a 1-0 lead against Rangers starter Chan Ho Park on Gil's run-scoring single in the second inning, but the Rangers tied it right away when Carl Everett doubled over the head of Melvin Mora in left field, scoring Ivan Rodriguez.

Juan Gonzalez and Palmeiro hit back-to-back home runs in the third. Gonzalez hit his sixth homer of the season, and Palmeiro followed with his 20th.

Palmeiro has now hit 20 home runs in 12 consecutive seasons. Among active players, only Barry Bonds (13 seasons) has a longer streak of 20 home runs or more.

The next inning the rains came, and the Orioles sandwiched singles around the delay - one by Tony Batista, one by Gibbons - putting runners at the corners against Park.

Marty Cordova grounded into a double play, but Batista scored the Orioles' second run. Gary Matthews led off the sixth with a walk, and Batista followed with his 19th home run of the season, a two-run blast that put the Orioles ahead 4-3. Gibbons followed with a triple, and scored on Park's wild pitch, giving the Orioles a two-run cushion.

Mike Bordick's run-scoring single in the eighth inning gave the Orioles a critical insurance run, making the score 6-3.

Johnson flew ahead of the team earlier in the day Thursday, and the rest seemed to show. He has made five starts since coming off the disabled list, and four of them have been quality starts -- six innings or more, three earned runs or less.

Three batters into the game, Johnson found himself in a horrible mess.

A walk, a single and a dribbler loaded the bases with none out on Johnson. But Gonzalez checked his swing, and hit the ball right back to Johnson who started a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first double play. Palmeiro was then induced into a flyout.

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Texas Rangers

Site:The Ballpark in Arlington (Texas)

Time:8:05

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

Starters:Orioles' Sidney Ponson (3-4, 4.02) vs. Rangers' Dave Burba (4-4, 5.06)

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