A's extend O's gloom to double digits, 9-4

Mental miscues make 10th loss in row worse

August 27, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - In 126 games as an Oriole, Miguel Tejada had never looked so deflated.

The strains of a 10-game losing streak had stolen his natural exuberance.

It was the sixth inning of yesterday's 9-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Network Associates Coliseum, and Tejada's former team had just delivered the knockout punch.

Clinging to a two-run lead, the A's loaded the bases, capitalizing on a mental mistake by Orioles center fielder Tim Raines that won't appear in the box score. Then, Scott Hatteberg drilled a three-run double into the left-center-field gap against Orioles reliever John Parrish.

Tejada hustled to receive the throw back from the outfield, but realizing he had no play, he turned around and walked, flipping the ball underhanded to second baseman Brian Roberts.

For an extended moment, Tejada just stood there on the outfield grass, staring into the seats near the Oakland dugout with a distant look in his eyes.

Tejada, who played his first seven seasons in Oakland, must wait until next season for another chance to beat his former team. The A's won all seven meetings this year.

"That's something I really take out of my mind," Tejada said. "We just had a great team, and we lost so many games in a row like that. It's not right."

Twelve days ago, Tejada had this team believing it was the best team in baseball. They had won 11 of 13 games to climb into the fringes of the wild-card race.

But now they're riding their longest losing streak since they lost 12 straight to close the 2002 season. At 57-69, they've fallen 12 games under .500 for the first time this season.

"We just have a tough time right now," Tejada said, as he packed for Texas, where the team begins a three-game series tonight. "But I hope tomorrow the pain goes away."

In another corner of the clubhouse, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli was steaming. He called a team meeting before Wednesday's 3-0 loss, and told everyone to stay positive and stay disciplined, concentrating on the little things that win games.

Yesterday, his team abandoned those tenets again.

Rookie Daniel Cabrera (9-7) walked the first two batters of the second inning and then served up a three-run homer to Erubiel Durazo. The Orioles came back to take the lead with four runs the next inning against the A's Barry Zito (10-9).

"It's not easy to score three runs against these guys," said Melvin Mora, who hit a two-run double, stole third and scored the fourth run on a wild pitch. "When we scored four runs, I thought we were going to win."

But Cabrera gave it right back in the bottom of the inning. With runners on second and third, Hatteberg hit a hard grounder to first baseman Jose Leon, and Cabrera didn't cover the base, forcing Leon to take it himself, sliding feetfirst to avoid a collision with Hatteberg.

"What gets me mad is it is the little things," Mazzilli said. "You give up a walk or something like that, and don't cover first base. That's what bothers me, the mental part of the game. I don't have patience for that."

Eric Byrnes put Oakland back ahead that inning with a run-scoring single to center. After Cabrera issued his second walk of the inning, and fifth overall, Mazzilli pulled him, turning to Dave Borkowski.

It was 6-4 in the sixth inning, when Raines made his mistake. The A's had runners on first and second with one out, and Mark McLemore hit a fly ball to deep center field. With Adam Melhuse tagging from second, Raines made the long throw to third, overthrowing the cutoff man.

That allowed Bobby Crosby to move from first to second. After getting called up for the game from Triple-A Ottawa, Raines said he pressed too hard, trying to make an impression. His throw should have gone to second or at least been low enough for Tejada to cut it off.

Parrish came in, and after falling behind in the count to Eric Chavez, 3-1, he put him on with an intentional walk, setting the stage for Hatteberg's bases-clearing double. Mazzilli agreed that Raines' throw changed the inning.

"You make errors, you give a home run, that's part of the game," Mazzilli said. "But mental mistakes are not good. There's no reason for mental mistakes, if you are prepared for a play ahead of time and know what's going on."

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