Bedard's left arm tattooed by Yanks as Orioles lose, 6-4

Rookie gives up five runs, nine hits, leaves after 4 2/3

Rodriguez steals home

August 01, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - A quick glance at the highlights from yesterday's 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees would never explain the frustration Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli felt as he fielded reporters' questions with some of his shortest answers of the season.

The Yankees, with their $180 million payroll and All-Star-laden roster, had done it again, right? Go ahead, scan the box score.

Javier Vazquez got his 12th win. Derek Jeter had an RBI triple. Alex Rodriguez (No. 27) and Gary Sheffield (No. 23) hit home runs. Mariano Rivera notched his 37th save.

Reading those names, it's easy to see how the Yankees are 10-2 against the Orioles. Pity the Orioles, with their $55 million payroll, right? That's not how the clubhouse saw it.

If the Orioles are ever going to bridge the gap with the Yankees, the standard theory goes, they'll have to do two things: pitch well and play good defense. Yesterday, they did neither.

A near-sellout crowd of 51,845 at Yankee Stadium watched the home team grab a 5-1 lead on rookie Erik Bedard and hang on for their second straight victory.

Bedard (4-6) failed it make it through the fifth inning for his second consecutive start. On a hot, sticky day, he got through the first three innings unscathed, but gave up two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth before Mazzilli pulled him from the game.

"He was behind a lot of hitters early on," Mazzilli said. "He was battling himself today."

The lowlight for the Orioles came when the Yankees executed a double steal, allowing Rodriguez to cross home with the tying run in the fourth inning. It was the first time either team had seen a player swipe home since Jeter did it against the Orioles on May 5, 2001.

"Not good," Mazzilli said.

The whole sequence of events was deflating for the Orioles, as the Yankees grabbed their 5-1 lead. And it all happened in the waning minutes before yesterday's non-waiver trade deadline, which passed without the Orioles making a deal.

Jerry Hairston, who had been hoping the team could resolve its second base situation with a deal, started his first game in center field, as Brian Roberts remained entrenched at second.

Hairston gave the Orioles a lift with a third-inning home run off Vazquez, but he never looked comfortable in the field.

With one out in the fourth inning, Hideki Matsui dropped a bloop single into short center, and Rodriguez advanced from first to third. Hairston, who at first tried to deke Rodriguez into thinking he could catch the ball in the air, didn't make a throw to third even though it looked like he had a play.

"Once I saw he didn't stop, I knew I wasn't going to get him," Hairston said.

With runners at the corners, Bedard struck out Ruben Sierra for the second out, but on the third strike, the Yankees executed their impromptu double steal. Running on a full count, Matsui broke for second, and the throw from catcher Javy Lopez pulled Roberts off second base.

"Essentially, it breaks down to where I probably broke too late," Roberts said.

Matsui pulled up to stop as he approached second, but with Rodriguez dashing home, Roberts tried making an off-balance throw to the plate. The ball bounced, and Lopez couldn't handle it, as Rodriguez slid home.

Roberts said it's the kind of play the team practices in spring training but usually sees about once a year. The Orioles executed it perfectly earlier in the season, as shortstop Miguel Tejada fired home for the out.

This time, Roberts said, "they ran it the right way, and we didn't."

Bedard blamed himself rather than his defense. "I just wasn't in it," he said, "from pitch one."

After Rodriguez stole home, Bedard hung a curveball that Tony Clark lined for a single to center field, scoring Matsui for a 2-1 lead.

Then, in the fifth, the Yankees added on, as Jeter hit his RBI triple, Sheffield hit an RBI groundout (with Mazzilli keeping the infield back), and Rodriguez hit his titanic home run, a few feet to the right of Monument Park.

Vazquez (12-6) faltered in the sixth, and the Orioles trimmed the lead to 5-4, as Tejada and Karim Garcia each hit a sacrifice fly.

But Sheffield hit his homer off Orioles reliever Eddy Rodriguez the next inning, and the Yankees' bullpen slammed the door.

"They want their [starting] pitchers to pitch five or six innings," Garcia said, "and it's pretty much over after that."

Orioles today

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Yankee Stadium

Time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 20/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (8-6, 3.61) vs. Yankees' Orlando Hernandez (2-0, 2.37)

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