Julio no plus for Perlozzo as Orioles fall in 10th, 7-6

Reliever loses 3-run lead

future weighs on manager

September 15, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - He ordered a sacrifice bunt from his lumbering backup catcher, called upon a young reliever with the go-ahead run on base and made late defensive substitutions as if a pennant hung in the balance.

Sam Perlozzo worked hard to keep his team's winning streak alive yesterday, uncertain if he was having the same effect on his chances of managing the Orioles in 2006.

With closer B.J. Ryan needing a rest after pitching four straight games, all of them resulting in saves, Jorge Julio was entrusted with a three-run lead in the ninth inning.

He couldn't hold it, a two-out pinch-hit homer by former Oriole David Dellucci tying the score and Kevin Mench's single in the 10th off Jason Grimsley giving the Texas Rangers a 7-6 victory at Ameriquest Field.

Severna Park native Mark Teixeira led off the 10th with a double and Alfonso Soriano was walked intentionally. Mench tried to bunt the first pitch from Grimsley (1-2) after misunderstanding the instructions from the dugout, got a quick lecture from his third base coach and singled to prevent the Rangers from being swept.

"These guys played their hearts out and they deserved to win that ballgame," Perlozzo said. "I'm more upset that the team battled so well and came up with nothing to show for it. But it's a funny game. You're going to lose some this way."

But how many games can Perlozzo afford to lose and still return as manager? With three weeks left in the season, he has no idea if he'll be retained or if the club will open a search. People close to him believe he'll leave the organization before being subjected to another interview.

"I have not talked to anybody and no one has said a thing to me," Perlozzo said. "I just go about my business. I don't know what else to do."

Perlozzo spoke to majority owner Peter G. Angelos about three weeks ago, but hasn't heard from him since. Angelos left the country on vacation.

"I thought maybe we'd get back in touch fairly quick after that," Perlozzo said. "I may call him and check in and go over a few things. I'm going about my business like I'm coming back, trying to make some plans."

The Orioles are 18-20 under Perlozzo, who isn't certain whether he's being judged strictly on results or how the team has held up under adverse conditions.

"I've gotten a little bit more at peace with myself with wins and losses and how the team is playing," Perlozzo said. "I believe I'm doing a good job for the organization. They put me in the interim to take care of the team the rest of the way and I think I've done a pretty darn good job of it.

"I'm confident they see that, and when it's time, they'll make the right decision, and if we lose some games the rest of the way, it's not going to be a factor. We've got some intelligent people running the organization."

That's where it becomes complicated. The contracts of executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan run out after the season. If someone else is put in charge, Perlozzo is more likely to be pushed out the door.

"I'm not going to say it's not on my mind," he said, "but I really believe if someone is sitting here critiquing me, then they're going to watch me run a ballgame and handle the players.

"Wins and losses shouldn't be a total part of it. I believe they should watch what's going on around us and if they feel like the team is responding, then I should have the job."

Aaron Rakers would have become the fourth Orioles pitcher this year to register his first major league victory if Julio hadn't blown the save. Rakers relieved starter Erik Bedard in the sixth inning and struck out the next five batters.

Julio got the first out in the ninth before walking Mark DeRosa on four pitches, a sequence that irritated Perlozzo. Jason Botts struck out, but Hank Blalock's pinch-hit double reduced the Orioles' lead to 6-4. Dellucci followed with his 27th homer on an 0-1 fastball.

"You've got to throw a breaking ball," Perlozzo said. "He should have closed that game for us."

Julio's ERA climbed to 5.89. If only his confidence was that high.

"I want to help the team and I can't do my job," he said. "I don't understand. It's been a bad year for me."

A walk and four singles allowed the Orioles (69-76) to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Melvin Mora had an RBI double in the second and a two-run double in the ninth, but a potential win evaporated. For now, Perlozzo is still here.

"I'm not going to die if I don't get the job," he said, "but I'm going to come away from this thing knowing that I can manage this team."

NOTES: Rafael Palmeiro attended yesterday's game with his wife, Lynne, but didn't stop by the clubhouse or speak to the media. He told a team spokesman that he hopes to return within a week to 10 days. ... Miguel Tejada served as the designated hitter for the second time this season.

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