Bullpen slips as O's fall to Phillies, 7-6

Grimsley, Ryan fail to hold 6-4 lead

Bell's homer, Perez's single cap rally

July 04, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Exhausted from playing 16 innings the previous night, their roster stretched to cartoonish proportions, the Orioles tried to do what manager Lee Mazzilli has been preaching since he took the job. They tried, through tired eyes, to find a way.

They got seven innings and 10 strikeouts out of starter Erik Bedard, who was primed for an early exit after allowing three runs in the first. They got home runs from Miguel Tejada and Luis Lopez within a lineup that bore scant resemblance to the usual ones.

They got so close to a win, they could taste it. No wonder the loss went down like sour milk.

David Bell belted a two-run homer off Jason Grimsley in the eighth inning to tie the game, and pinch-hitter Tomas Perez grounded a single past Lopez at third base to give the Philadelphia Phillies a 7-6 victory over the Orioles last night before 44,163 at Citizens Bank Park.

With B.J. Ryan pitching, Perez sent a sharp grounder toward Lopez at third. The ball skipped under his glove as Mike Lieberthal scored, and the Orioles (34-43) had found the wrong way to hold a lead and extend a modest winning streak.

"I'm known as a defensive player," Lopez said, "and I've got to make that play."

Tejada's homer in the fifth inning was his 15th this season and extended his hitting streak to 18 games. He also had a sacrifice fly to increase his RBI total to 69, third in the American League.

Replacing injured Melvin Mora at third base, Lopez drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and his first homer since Sept. 15, 2002, which increased the Orioles' lead to 6-4 in the eighth. It broke an 0-for-17 slump.

Appearing in his third straight game, Grimsley retired the leadoff hitter in the eighth and almost got the second out when Jim Thome grounded to Lopez, who moved to shortstop in the Orioles' shift. But the ball took a wicked hop past Lopez's right ear, and Bell followed with his two-run shot to left field.

"That's part of the game. What can you do?" Lopez said. "Thank God it didn't hit me in the head."

Grimsley departed after allowing a single and walk, and Ryan couldn't retire Perez, as the Orioles failed to win their fourth straight.

"We just got beat with a bad hop. That's it. That's all I saw," Mazzilli said. "We got the hits when we needed them, we got the pitching when we needed it."

Brian Roberts walked against closer Billy Wagner to begin the ninth, but he broke too early for second and was caught in a rundown.

"That can't happen," Mazzilli said.

Grimsley felt the same way about Bell's homer.

"In 29 ballparks it's an out," Grimsley said. "The dimensions here aren't what they say. It's a lot shorter."

As for Thome's lucky bounce, Grimsley said, "Stuff like that happens. You've still got to get people out."

Mazzilli was so proud of his club for its perseverance Friday that he called a meeting before batting practice, an unusual occurrence on the second day of a series. It's assumed that everyone stayed awake despite the bus not leaving the ballpark yesterday until 2:45 a.m.

"That's pretty impressive to me, the unity of the team and wanting to win, and guys trying to find a way to do it," he said.

The cost of surviving a 6-hour, 15-minute game was pretty steep. Mazzilli used every position player, and the only pitchers spared were three starters. His bench was paper-thin because of Larry Bigbie's sprained ankle and Mora's strained hamstring. Javy Lopez caught every inning, the most of his career, and needed a breather with a day game approaching.

Because of the extreme circumstances, Luis Lopez made a rare start at third, and the corner outfielders were infielders Jerry Hairston and David Newhan. Mazzilli can add "juggler" to his resume.

"You make do," Mazzilli said. "You make do."

Bedard didn't have to be perfect last night. He didn't have to exhibit pin-point control or add more zip to his fastball. The Orioles just wanted innings out of him. As many as he could handle.

So imagine Mazzilli's reaction when the first three hitters reached against Bedard, and when the Phillies scored three runs before the Orioles had another chance to bat. Imagine the distances he could have covered if given more room to pace.

Mazzilli wasn't going to leave Bedard in the game to take an extreme beating, but he intended to give the left-hander plenty of leash. Enough to wrap around the ballpark. Twice.

With every reliever used Friday night, Mazzilli didn't have a lot of choices in the bullpen. Rick Bauer was fresh after arriving earlier in the day from his rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie, and Mazzilli figured he could squeeze a few hitters out of Grimsley and Ryan.

"That's my best," he said. "I asked those guys what they had. They wanted the ball, and they got it."

After the first, Bedard didn't allow another run until Mike Lieberthal homered with one out in the sixth to cut the Orioles' lead to 5-4. Bedard's 10 strikeouts are the most by an Orioles rookie since Rocky Coppinger in 1996 and three short of the club rookie record.

"The kid gutted it out and went deep into the game," Mazzilli said.

The Orioles scored twice in the second after Tejada was hit on the right hand by Kevin Millwood, and twice in the third to lead 4-3. David Newhan's triple tied the score, and Tejada followed with a sacrifice fly.

Orioles today

Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies

Site: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Time: 1:35 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (3-11, 6.22) vs. Phillies' Eric Milton (10-2, 4.68)

Stopping Thome

Major league home run leader Jim Thome of the Phillies struggled against Orioles pitching the past two nights, going 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts and leaving 13 runners on base. His average dropped from .308 to .298:

AB H BB SO LOB

Friday night 8 0 0 5 9

Last night 4 1 0 2 4

Totals 12 1 0 7 13

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.