Outfield move backfires on Orioles, 7-4

Out of position, Bautista muffs catch, Hairston relay to aid Angels' six-run 4th

Lefty Washburn goes strong 8

DuBose adds to starter woes

Mazzilli `baffled'

May 16, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

If the intent of last night's posted lineup was to make available a few extra right-handed bats, the Orioles could rate their game against the Anaheim Angels as a definite success. They swung from the desired side of the plate. Any achievement in this series must be treasured, even the modest ones.

Most everything else went wrong for the Orioles, including Eric DuBose's eighth start of the season and two changes in the outfield that became more noticeable in one decisive inning.

The Angels batted around for the second time in the series, scoring six runs in the fourth to chase DuBose and maintain the best record in the majors with a 7-4 victory before 40,275 at Camden Yards.

DuBose served up home runs to Vladimir Guerrero and Shane Halter that each measured 413 feet, as the Orioles (17-16) lost for the fourth time in five games. Miguel Tejada hit his fifth homer, a two-run shot after the Angels opened up a 7-0 lead, but left-hander Jarrod Washburn retired the last 15 batters he faced.

Bringing the usual doses of late drama, Melvin Mora hit a bases-empty homer off reliever Ben Weber with one out in the ninth to raise his team-leading total to seven. But Angels closer Troy Percival, who blew a three-run lead Friday, got Luis Matos to bounce into a double play after letting an inherited runner score on Javy Lopez's infield hit.

The game represented another failed effort by a starting pitcher, which forced the Orioles to again play from behind. "It seems like that's happening too often," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "I'm baffled right now."

No Orioles starter has gotten through the sixth inning and recorded an out in the seventh in the past 13 games. "They're going to have to dig a little deeper," Mazzilli said. "I feel like each guy is trying too hard, trying to pick up their teammates. They've got to stay within their own game."

The Orioles tweaked their rotation in the afternoon, optioning Kurt Ainsworth to Triple-A Ottawa and inserting Rodrigo Lopez. They also changed the lineup by sitting outfielders Larry Bigbie and Jay Gibbons against Washburn (7-1).

Jerry Hairston made his first professional appearance in the outfield, starting in left, and Rule 5 draft pick Jose Bautista replaced Gibbons in right. It was Bautista's second start this year, and it didn't go as smoothly as Mazzilli hoped.

Bautista, a third baseman in the minors, drifted back on a two-out fly ball from Jose Molina in the fourth inning, unaware that a large wall was about to impede his progress. He bumped into it while extending his arm, and the ball hit the padding at elbow-level before bouncing away from him.

Guerrero raced home as Molina advanced to second with a double, and Halter cleared the center-field fence for a 4-0 lead.

An inning that could have been over with the Orioles trailing 1-0 instead took on a life of its own.

"I got a good jump on it and it started coming back over my head," Bautista said. "I read it with enough time but I got a little bit too comfortable. I thought I had more room than I had."

"He just didn't get to it," Mazzilli said. "He whiffed it."

The next five batters reached before Darwin Cubillan, recalled earlier in the day to replace Ainsworth, made his first major league appearance since 2001.

"If," Mazzilli said of Bautista's failed attempt, "means six runs."

Alfredo Amezaga lined an RBI single into left field, with Hairston's throw drifting almost halfway up the third base line as two runners advanced, and Chone Figgins followed with a two-run single to make it 7-0.

"He missed the cutoff man by a wide margin," Mazzilli said of Hairston, "and you can't do that."

You also can't leave a fastball up over the plate, as DuBose did to Guerrero in the second inning. Guerrero launched it into the seats for a 1-0 lead. DuBose left with two outs in the fourth after allowing six more runs. The Angels had 10 hits off him.

"You've got to smell blood in the water and get the third out," said DuBose, who hasn't seen the sixth inning in his past three starts. "It's just inexcusable."

Mazzilli said no more immediate changes are forthcoming with the rotation.

His alternatives are limited now that Lopez is been pulled from the bullpen. "These guys have to step up," he said.

Cubillan, 31, restored order by blanking the Angels on one hit over 3 1/3 innings.

With the win, the Angels tied their best start after 37 games. They stayed in control until the ninth, when the Orioles did the usual clawing, only to wind up in the smaller hole.

"We need to get deeper in games," Mazzilli said. "It's not like it's a lack of trying. I know they're trying."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Kelvim Escobar (2-1, 4.88) vs. Orioles' Sidney Ponson (2-3, 6.80)

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