After 9-run rally, O's fall, 10-9

Three-run 9th ties game, then Angels prevail in 10

`Can't keep playing from behind'

Still winless, Ainsworth allows 9 runs in 1 1/3 innings

May 15, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

On a night when Orioles fans vented against Anaheim Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for stiff-arming the team during contract negotiations last winter and grew more agitated with starting pitcher Kurt Ainsworth, they filed out of Camden Yards exhausted from an improbable comeback and curious about one player.

Who the heck is Chone Figgins?

Starting because of injuries that have devastated the Angels' lineup, Figgins collected five hits and six RBIs and decided the outcome with a two-out single off Jorge Julio in the 10th inning that gave Anaheim a 10-9 victory over the Orioles before 38,232.

Figgins came within a double of the cycle and hit his first career homer, a grand slam off Ainsworth in the second inning, as the Angels built a 9-0 lead.

The Orioles chipped away before tying it in the ninth with three runs off closer Troy Percival and almost posted the largest comeback in team history, but Adam Kennedy singled off Julio, stole second and raced home on a grounder by Figgins that sneaked into left field.

The Orioles got the tying run to second base in the bottom of the 10th against Scot Shields, but Jerry Hairston popped up to end the game.

"There are only so many times you can come back like this," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "There's more than one side to this game. You have to play both sides, and we didn't. What you do early in the game, you can't do late, and vice-versa."

Luis Matos led off the ninth by homering off Percival, and consecutive two-out singles by Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada tied the game. Mora stole second uncontested before Tejada looped a two-run single into center field.

The throw from Figgins, who had moved from third base to center, arrived at the same time as Mora, but catcher Bengie Molina lost the ball while trying to make a sweeping tag.

This wasn't the first meltdown for Percival against the Orioles, but it ranked among the most dramatic. He's 1-5 with a 6.33 ERA lifetime against them, and 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA at Camden Yards.

Mora homered off reliever Kevin Gregg in the seventh to bring the Orioles within 9-6. He also had an RBI double in the fifth and leads the American League with a .378 average.

Mazzilli met with the team after the game, offering praise for its refusal to quit and a stern lecture for all the elements that contributed to the deficit.

"What I take out of this is, we can't let that happen in the first two innings of the game," he said. "We didn't execute a rundown like we should have, we let a guy take a base when he shouldn't have. That's details and preparation.

"I'm proud of the way they fought back. ... [But] this is a nine-inning game and you've got to play nine innings. It's tough to win ballgames. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it."

Nothing is coming easily to Ainsworth, who allowed nine runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. He is winless in seven starts and his ERA rose to 9.68.

Today's Preakness Stakes should last longer than Ainsworth, who let nine of 13 batters reach before Mazzilli turned to his bullpen.

"I think he's a little frustrated," Mazzilli said. "He's busting his tail; he's trying. He's just fighting himself all the time and it's tough to do that."

The outing ranked as the shortest by an Orioles starter this season. Ainsworth has given up 16 earned runs in his past two starts, and seven or more on three occasions this year, and his spot in the rotation is growing more tenuous.

"It just seems like I'm in one of those ruts this year," Ainsworth said. "I think it's more mental than anything. I think I'm lacking a little confidence."

Angels starter Bartolo Colon didn't allow a hit until Javy Lopez homered with two outs in the fourth inning. It seemed like a meaningless blow until the Orioles scored four times in the fifth, two coming on Rafael Palmeiro's 534th career homer, which tied him with Jimmie Foxx for 12th all-time.

"We lost that game in the second inning," Palmeiro said. "We battled back and did some great things, but you just can't have breakdowns like that and expect to come all the way back. We've got to play ahead. We can't keep playing from behind."

Though possessing the best record in the majors before last night, the Angels are patched up for their series in Baltimore. Three regulars are on the disabled list: Darin Erstad (hamstring), Tim Salmon (knee) and Garret Anderson (back). Troy Glaus remained in Anaheim with a sprained right knee and strained right shoulder.

None of it mattered to the Angels, who began the game with consecutive triples by David Eckstein and Figgins, and piled on the next inning with seven straight batters reaching before Mazzilli intervened.

Figgins hadn't homered in 338 career at-bats before his slam.

Reliever Rick Bauer let two inherited runners score but retired nine in a row and shut out the Angels over 4 2/3 innings.

"We showed character by the way we battled and came all the way back," Palmeiro said, "but how often can we do that?"

O's comeback almost a record

The Orioles rebounded from a nine-run deficit before falling to the Angels, 10-9, in 10 innings last night at Camden Yards. If they had won the game, it would have been the biggest comeback victory in club history. Here's a look at the others:

Date Deficit Opponent Final

9-2-56 0-8 Boston 11-10

8-2-02 1-8 Toronto 9-8

6-25-70 0-7 Boston 13-8

9-21-76 0-7 Yankees 11-8

6-15-83 0-7 Milwaukee 11-8

9-18-83 0-7 Milwaukee 10-9

7-2-95 0-7 Toronto 9-7

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Jarrod Washburn (6-1, 5.14) vs. Orioles' Eric DuBose (3-2, 4.14)

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