O's can't stay out of own way in loss

Gibbons' mental error aids A's 4-run 8th, as Orioles fall, 5-1

Bedard goes 7 strong

Baseball

April 08, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

In an eighth inning of unimaginable gaffes, Jay Gibbons got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and Steve Kline made the wrong pitch at the worst time.

Making errors of omission and commission, the Orioles couldn't recover from their one-inning malaise last night and suffered a 5-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

A rain-splattered crowd of 16,395 - the smallest in Camden Yards history - watched a horror show unfold in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game.

What they saw was a sorry ending to a superb outing by left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard, who did not come out to start the eighth inning after getting hit on the right ankle in the seventh.

It started badly when Kline, a veteran reliever, walked ninth-hitter Marco Scutaro. It turned bizarre when the Orioles botched Mark Kotsay's attempted sacrifice bunt. And it disintegrated into defeat when Eric Byrnes crushed a three-run home run after failing to get another bunt down.

"I didn't think he'd be swinging," Kline said of Byrnes, who drove his game-winning shot 394 feet over the center field fence. "I thought he'd be bunting there."

Byrnes had attempted a bunt, with runners on first and second, but the ball rolled just off the third base line. Kline then gave him a fastball up, hoping to get a pop-up on the bunt.

"If I throw a sinker down and away, he grounds out," Kline said. "I threw it up. He pulled the bat back and hit it out."

Kotsay's bunt single on the play before sent the game spiraling out of the Orioles' control. Kline fielded the bunt on the third base side of the mound and threw toward first.

But Gibbons, a converted first baseman, was standing off the bag and directly in Kline's line of view. Behind him, second baseman Brian Roberts stood on the bag waiting for a throw that never arrived.

Gibbons cut the ball off and set the table for Byrnes' dramatics.

"It was my fault," Gibbons said. "I went in for the bunt and Brian yelled for me to get back. I didn't get back in time. It was simple execution. ... Usually, I charge and bail out."

The missed communication was that Gibbons didn't know Roberts would get to first in time, and didn't want the ball to go sailing down the right-field line.

"When [Kotsay] bunted, I yelled for [Gibbons] to stay there," Roberts said. "It's my responsibility to be there. If he's not there, I'll be there. I said for him to stop there because he didn't have a play on the ball."

Gibbons, who has spent most of his career in the outfield, played only 12 games at first base last year. Last night was his first start in the infield.

"Not playing together," Roberts said, trying to explain the lapse in communication. "It's just one of those things."

Inexperience?

"It might be," Mazzilli said. "[But] I hate to make excuses. I think he knows better.

"Once you've committed, you've got to get out of the way. If you can't make the play, get out of the way. He just got caught in the middle."

Kline didn't make it out of the eighth, surrendering a double to Eric Chavez and a run-scoring single to Erubiel Durazo. That gave the Orioles a four-run deficit.

In another time, the Orioles' potent offense might have been able to answer. But not in the season-opening series against the Athletics. They were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position last night and scuffled through the last two games in a hitting slump.

"We will get it going," Mazzilli said. "We just haven't hit in three games. This club is going to hit."

The Orioles got their only run of the night in the first when Roberts punched a leadoff homer to right, the second leadoff homer of his career. They loaded the bases in the second with two outs against Oakland starter Danny Haren, but David Newhan, making his first start of the season, flied to center.

After that, Haren and Bedard matched pitches and got stronger the longer the game went.

"All their [pitchers] the last two days use both sides of the plate," Roberts said. `They use all their pitches, get ahead in the count and don't walk people."

Mazzilli didn't want to risk sending Bedard out for the decisive eighth after he took a shot on his right foot on a ball scorched by Durazo.

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