Hot Angels score 2 in 10th to keep Orioles reeling, 4-2

Anaheim wins 9th in row

O's lose 13th in past 14

September 08, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The Orioles made a comeback that reminded them of happier times last night, a late two-run rally that stunned the Anaheim Angels into thinking they might lose precious ground in the American League playoff pennant race.

But times have changed, and so, it seems, have the Orioles' fortunes.

Melvin Mora ended the eighth inning with a liner to shortstop - the sort of hit that always seemed to find wide-open spaces earlier this season - and the Angels eventually handed the Orioles a 4-2 defeat in 10 innings before 30,714 at Camden Yards.

"We've been used to winning those games this year," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said, contemplating his team's 13th loss in 14 games. "But the Angels have a very good ballclub, and they're hot right now. They're not contending because it's an accident."

In the 10th inning, the Angels inserted lightning-fast pinch runner Chone Figgins, who stole second base and scored on Tim Salmon's one-out single off Orioles closer Jorge Julio (5-6). Adam Kennedy added a run-scoring double, and the Angels claimed their ninth consecutive victory.

Anaheim remained two games behind the Oakland Athletics in the AL West and maintained its four-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the wild-card race.

Last night, the Orioles wasted one of the best starts of the season for Rodrigo Lopez. He allowed two runs on three hits over eight innings but remained stuck on 14 wins for the third consecutive start.

Aside from yielding leadoff home runs to David Eckstein in the first and Brad Fullmer in the second, Lopez was masterful. He might have had a victory had Eckstein not speared Mora's liner in the eighth.

"Those guys are trying to fight for the playoffs," Lopez said, "and they were in the right place at the right time."

After doing next to nothing against Anaheim starter Mickey Callaway for seven innings, the Orioles capitalized on some shoddy defensive play by the Angels in the eighth.

The Angels entered the game as the second-best fielding team in the AL, but it seemed like they had hands of stone in the eighth. Pinch hitter Luis Lopez reached on an error by first baseman Scott Spiezio, who couldn't field a soft liner to his right.

Then Jerry Hairston hit what should have been an easy double-play ball to third baseman Troy Glaus. But Glaus muffed the grounder and pulled second baseman Kennedy off the bag with his throw, allowing Lopez to slide safely into second.

With one out, Brendan Donnelly relieved Callaway, and Jeff Conine hit another ball off Glaus' glove for an infield single. It wasn't pretty, but the Orioles loaded the bases, and Tony Batista lined Donnelly's next pitch into the left-center gap for a two-run single, giving him 81 RBIs.

The score was tied 2-2. The Orioles had the go-ahead run at third base, and the dedicated crowd seemed genuinely excited. But Angels reliever Scott Schoeneweis got Marty Cordova to pop out to shallow left field for a big second out.

Scioscia called upon Ben Weber (6-2), the fourth pitcher of the inning, and Eckstein lunged to his left to catch Mora's liner, ending the threat.

"It should have been different," Mora said. "If that goes through, we win the game. Those things happen. Especially when you're struggling, things like that keep happening."

Glaus drew a one-out walk against Julio to start the 10th. Figgins came in to pinch run and immediately stole second, out-running the throw from Geronimo Gil, who had thrown out better than 50 percent of the previous 37 opposing base stealers.

"He can fly," Hargrove said of Figgins. "Everybody in the ballpark knew he was going to run. Gil made a tremendous throw, but God, he was fast."

Figgins blazed home on Salmon's single, ahead of the throw from left fielder Larry Bigbie.

"Any time you lose a game like that, it's frustrating," said Hargrove. "I was very proud of our ballclub in the way we fought tonight and battled."

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