Rays give O's staff devil, 13-3

Short without Riley, pitchers have long night with 11 walks

July 08, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The Orioles can only hope Matt Riley caught a few highlights from last night's debacle at Camden Yards.

They can only hope he takes a minute this morning, before suiting up for Triple-A Ottawa, and scans the box score from the 13-3 pounding the Orioles took against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before a surly crowd of 28,081.

They can only hope Riley cares. Because, putting aside the team's offensive struggles for a moment, he had an indirect role in this ugly defeat.

Team officials were so infuriated with his meltdown Friday in Philadelphia, they shipped him back to the minors. His head wasn't where it needed to be, they said, and they figured he needed a little soul-searching if he was ever going to tap into his vast potential.

They made that move knowing it would leave them without a logical choice to start last night's series finale against the Devil Rays.

John Parrish, who hadn't started a game in three years, got the nod, and he was gone by the third inning. Tampa Bay scored three first-inning runs, capitalizing on two walks and two errors (including one by Parrish), and pulled away with three more in the seventh before piling on with seven more in the ninth.

"That first inning, I was trying to get those jitters out from starting," Parrish said. "And I was probably a little strong after having four days off."

Devil Rays starter Rob Bell (3-3) held the Orioles to two hits in seven-plus innings. The Orioles did little offensively until the ninth, when Tim Raines hit a run-scoring single and Rafael Palmeiro hit a two-run homer, his 12th of the season, to pull within 10 runs of the lead.

A four-game series that had begun so promisingly for the Orioles, who swept Monday's doubleheader, ended up in a disappointing split, as they scored just four runs in the final two games.

"We could definitely use a day off [today], that's for sure," Mazzilli said after the team's 17th game in 16 days.

At 36-46, the Orioles fell back into sole possession of last place in the American League East. The third-place Devil Rays (42-41) have not lost a series since May 28-30, when they dropped two of three against the New York Yankees. They are 8-0-3 in series since then.

Parrish (5-3) earned the start after a long string of solid relief outings. When Riley got the hook last Friday in the second inning, after squandering an early 5-0 lead against the Philadelphia Phillies, Parrish came in and settled the situation, allowing one unearned run in three innings to lower his ERA to 3.91.

This time, pitching exclusively from the stretch position - the way pitchers do when there's a runner on base - Parrish fell victim to the same poison that has troubled the staff all season.

That would be walks.

Orioles pitchers allowed 11 of them for the game, two fewer than their season high. That total included three by Jason Grimsley in the ninth inning, when the only sounds in the ballpark were boos.

Carl Crawford drew a five-pitch walk to start the game, and Parrish quickly became preoccupied with him at first. Crawford has 38 stolen bases, the most by an American Leaguer by the All-Star break since Brian Hunter had 44 in 1997.

Parrish tried a quick pickoff move, and his throw skidded past first baseman Palmeiro and bounced behind the tarp in right-field foul territory. The umpires awarded Crawford third base, and Damian Rolls brought him home with a sharp single to left field.

After striking out Rocco Baldelli, Parrish issued a four-pitch walk to Aubrey Huff and a five-pitch walk to Jose Cruz, loading the bases.

He could have escaped the inning, but Julio Lugo hit a sharp grounder to third baseman David Newhan, who was playing on the infield grass and bobbled the ball before making a desperate throw home.

The throw wasn't in time to catch Rolls, and Newhan was charged with the error. He added another error in the ninth and has now committed five in 20 games. Toby Hall followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, and Parrish needed 38 pitches to finish the inning.

"He was just all over the place," Mazzilli said of Parrish.

The left-hander's pitch count reached 64, as the Devil Rays put runners at the corners with one out in the third, and Mazzilli went back to the bullpen for right-hander Eddy Rodriguez, who lent the game some respectability, getting the Orioles to the seventh with the score still 3-0.

But after that, things got ugly in a hurry against Orioles relievers Mike DeJean, Grimsley and Rick Bauer.

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