Athletics slow O's, get best of Bedard

Redman out-duels rookie for 3-1 triumph, stymies AL's 2nd-best hitting team

Orioles' only offense: Lopez HR

August 17, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

A small television monitor in the visiting clubhouse at Camden Yards drew an unusually large crowd yesterday, with players and coaches almost pressed against it before the Oakland Athletics took the field for the pre-game stretch, all of them fixated on one image.

It was as though they couldn't take their eyes off Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard, who was shown in his most recent start in Anaheim.

Still impressed a few hours later, they also had conquered the rookie left-hander.

Locked in a scoreless tie, the Athletics scored three runs off Bedard in the fifth inning and relied on their own left-hander to make them hold up in a 3-1 victory over the Orioles before 40,964.

Though he had lost six of his past eight decisions, Oakland's Mark Redman was too much for the Orioles (57-60). He allowed a bases-empty homer to Javy Lopez in the fifth but otherwise controlled a team that had scored eight runs in the eighth inning Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Closer Octavio Dotel picked up his 25th save, the past 11 since coming to Oakland, but only after Melvin Mora led off the ninth with a double to give the Orioles three chances at delivering the tying runs. And after a controversy unfolded with one out.

Plate umpire Angel Hernandez ruled that Dotel hit Rafael Palmeiro on the lower leg, putting runners on the corners. But on a late appeal, third base umpire Larry Young determined that Palmeiro swung as he was falling in the dirt, bringing the second out and a prolonged argument from manager Lee Mazzilli.

"He said he swung. I don't know how. I don't know where," Mazzilli said. "I saw the tape. I'm not happy about the call."

Neither was Palmeiro, who watched Lopez fly out to end the game.

"The ball hit me," he said. "I didn't think I swung the bat. I was just trying to get out of the way. I went to the ground. How am I going to swing from the ground?"

Much more was expected of an offense that began the night ranked second in the American League with a .283 average. Like a computer, the Orioles went into rest mode for a while. So did their surge of victories in the second half.

The Orioles were trying to climb within one game of .500 for the first time since June 2. They've won 11 of their past 14.

"This is what we've been looking forward to for six years, having something to play for as a team in August and September," said second baseman Brian Roberts, who was named the AL's Player of the Week yesterday.

"It gets old playing for yourself. It really does. It makes it harder and it's not as much fun. I think that all of us were looking forward, especially the young guys who never experienced this, to having something to shoot for this time of year."

Their aim was a little off last night.

Bedard (5-7) came out after six innings with the Orioles trailing 3-1. He allowed eight hits, walked three and struck out seven.

Still unable to keep his pitch count down, Bedard threw 113 before John Parrish replaced him.

"His pitch count was high real quick. It's no good," Mazzilli said. "Hopefully that just comes with learning. You need to get one- and two-pitch outs."

The Orioles had to make some late changes to their lineup after Larry Bigbie aggravated a groin injury during batting practice. B.J. Surhoff went from reserve to starting right fielder, with David Newhan moving to left in place of Bigbie and Jay Gibbons going from left to designated hitter.

As part of the ripple effect, Palmeiro and Lopez changed places in the order, with the Orioles' catcher dropping to sixth. Lopez reached on an infield hit in the second before awakening the crowd with his 18th home run.

Surhoff and Gibbons singled later in the inning, but Roberts bounced out to kill the rally. Roberts' streak of doubling in seven consecutive games ended last night.

Taking advantage of his opportunity, Surhoff singled again in the seventh but was wiped out on a double play.

Making his 22nd start in the majors, and first against the Athletics, Bedard had to wiggle out of a few early jams.

A walk, single and wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with one out in the first inning, but Bedard struck out Jermaine Dye and Damian Miller. Singles by former Oriole Mark McLemore and Eric Byrnes in the third had the rookie in more one-out trouble, but a fly ball and grounder ended that threat.

Erubiel Durazo singled with one out in the fourth, but again, Bedard strolled to the dugout with the game scoreless.

He didn't have that luxury in the fifth inning. Byrnes followed a walk to Mark Kotsay with a double to right-center field, breaking the tie. Consecutive two-out singles by Dye, Miller and Durazo produced two more runs.

"I just got the ball up," Bedard said, "and they got some hits."

Bedard limited the Angels to one run over 5 2/3 innings in his previous outing, the one that captivated the Athletics, but didn't get a decision in a game the Orioles lost, 4-2. He's won only two of his past nine starts.

Oakland maintained its hold on first place in the AL West while at least temporarily cooling off a team that had gotten the Athletics' attention.

"They are the hottest team in the league right now," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "They are getting pretty good pitching, and over the last seven games, their offense has been incredible. If you don't believe it, take a look at some of the game tape we've been watching."

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