Out of hole, O's see 8th cave in for loss

`Weirdest' inning results in Yanks scoring 7 to win, 13-8, after blowing 6-0 lead

July 05, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Orioles closer B.J. Ryan removed his cap after reaching the dugout yesterday and calmly filled a cup with water, taking sips as he chose a seat on the bench. He didn't throw anything, not even a tantrum. Equipment didn't fly onto the field. The reliever didn't fly into a rage.

A loss that could rate as the toughest this season left players confused but calm. It persuaded a manager to call a clubhouse meeting to praise his team rather than to berate it.

In need of a win to reverse a sharp decline, the Orioles rallied from six runs down before mishandling a lead in the eighth inning and losing to the New York Yankees, 13-8, in front of a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium that grew noisier with each hitter.

Twelve batters came to the plate in an inning that Jay Gibbons described as "the weirdest ever." It began with the Yankees trailing 8-6 and Steve Kline on the mound. It ended with seven runs scoring and not a single ball hit with authority.

"That was the most unbelievable inning I've seen in my 12-year career," catcher Sal Fasano said. "I've never seen that many quails fall in one inning."

The Orioles (44-38) have lost 10 of their past 12, and their hold on second place is down to 1 1/2 games over the Yankees.

Kline served up Jason Giambi's second home run of the game despite jamming him and allowed a single to pinch hitter Ruben Sierra, the only batters he faced. Ryan came in earlier than usual and threw 45 pitches, two more than starter Bruce Chen, who lasted only 1 1/3 innings.

"Did they hit a ball hard?" said Gibbons, who homered and drove in two runs. "I can't remember any."

With his team fighting back from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game in the seventh on Rafael Palmeiro's 2,993rd career hit and take the lead on Luis Matos' two-run double, Mazzilli gave a pep talk to show his appreciation.

"I told them I'm proud of the way they played," Mazzilli said. "We very easily could have folded the tent. They came back and battled ... There's no give-up with this team."

There's a surplus of frustration building within Kline, who has allowed four homers to left-handed batters, compared with one last season. He has surrendered homers in his past two appearances, and his ERA stands at 5.93 in 30 1/3 innings.

"It's his spot against left-handers, and he's got to get it done," Mazzilli said. "We've got to figure something out to get him back in the groove."

Asked whether Tim Byrdak, who hasn't permitted a run in two appearances, could assume Kline's role, Mazzilli said, "That's something that Ray [Miller] and I will discuss."

Kline, still facing a four-game suspension, was the most distraught player in the clubhouse, keeping his head down and speaking in a low tone. Able to joke before the game about his exclusion from the All-Star team, he no longer found anything humorous.

"Everything I throw is getting hit," he said. "My slider's flat, my sinker [stinks]. I'm trying so hard and it's just not working out. It's been an emotional year and we're not at the break yet."

"He's mentally defeated," Fasano said, "and he has to get over that."

Mazzilli pulled Kline after two batters and went with his All-Star closer. He bypassed Jorge Julio despite three of the next four batters being right-handed.

"There's no margin for error. You have to go with your best right there," Mazzilli said.

Derek Jeter is 0-for-11 against Julio, but he looped a single into right field against Ryan. Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-6 against Julio, but he took two close pitches from Ryan to draw a bases-loaded walk and tie the game.

Bernie Williams followed with a bloop hit into right that scored two runs. Gibbons retrieved the ball at the tarp after beating second baseman Brian Roberts to it.

"They didn't hit it hard," Ryan said, "but they hit it hard enough."

Another run scored on an error by Miguel Tejada, and Ryan walked Jorge Posada and hit Giambi. Ryan was removed after Bubba Crosby singled to right-center field, the ball trickling out of Gibbons' glove after he dived for it.

Ryan has gone two innings only once this season, when Roberts hit a walk-off homer in the 10th to beat the Yankees last Tuesday. Roberts homered again yesterday for the Orioles' first run.

"They call your number," Ryan said, "you go out there and pitch."

For the second straight day, an Orioles starter allowed six runs and retired only four batters before Mazzilli turned to his bullpen. The Yankees hit three home runs off Chen to build a 6-0 lead, sitting on his changeup as if they knew what was coming. The fireworks came early. Chen certainly was lit up.

Though walking with a limp, he wouldn't use a sprained big toe on his left foot as an excuse.

"My foot was fine," he said. "I was just terrible today."

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