O's on losing end for '05

Posada HRs cap Yanks' sweep for 82nd loss, assure O's won't see .500

Yankees 7, Orioles 6

September 23, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

NEW YORK -- Already forced to accept that they no longer were pennant contenders, the Orioles had to digest another nugget last night.

They will end the season with a losing record. Again.

Catcher Jorge Posada homered twice off Orioles left-hander Bruce Chen, including a three-run shot in the sixth inning, and the New York Yankees completed their four-game sweep with a 7-6 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Gary Sheffield added a bases-empty homer off Aaron Rakers in the seventh, as the Yankees won for the 10th time in 11 games. The Orioles were down 7-1 in the eighth before scoring four runs, all of them charged to reliever Al Leiter. Melvin Mora homered off Tom Gordon with two outs in the ninth.

"We've got to hit early in the game," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We can't let teams get up on us and then try to come back later."

Before the season began, the Orioles (70-82) were among five teams to post losing records seven years in a row. Tampa Bay, Detroit and Pittsburgh have kept their dubious streaks alive, while Milwaukee is 75-77.

None of them spent 62 straight days in first place, as the Orioles did this season.

"It's hard to fathom," Perlozzo said. "Now I look back and say, `I don't know how this happened.' But honestly, there's not a whole lot else we can do about that. It's water under the bridge.

"We need to get the organization back on track. That's the bottom line. And we will get it back on track. We need to get the idea that this isn't going to happen anymore."

Perlozzo isn't looking for the Orioles to be spoilers with seven games remaining against the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. They haven't done a good job of it so far anyway, losing 22 of 32 games.

"I'm not worrying about spoiling anything. I'm just worrying about being respectable and having enough pride to go out and play our best and not lay down," he said. "We want to win for us. I don't want to win for the Boston Red Sox or anybody else. I want to win for the Baltimore Orioles."

Before last night, Chen (12-10) hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in a start since July 27. He had permitted more than two only once in that span.

Chen was 5-3 with a 1.84 ERA in nine starts since the beginning of August, the third-best ERA in the majors behind Florida's Dontrelle Willis (1.34) and Minnesota's Johan Santana (1.63).

"He's got, like, five pitches and he's thrown them for strikes and gotten ahead of hitters," Perlozzo said. "He usually keeps the ball down, and when he does that, he can pitch."

And when it's elevated, Posada can hammer it. His bases-empty shot in the fifth tied the game, 1-1, and he followed Hideki Matsui's run-scoring single in the sixth by reaching the third deck in left field to give the Yankees a 5-1 lead.

Pitching coach Ray Miller instructed Chen to throw off-speed stuff to Posada in the sixth.

Said Chen: "I threw a curveball and it was a ball. I was very comfortable with my fastball and I thought I should throw it."

Chen escaped a big jam in the first, disappointing a crowd of 52,368, and was cruising until the middle innings.

Derek Jeter's infield hit was the Yankees' only hit until Posada homered for the first time.

Note -- Brian Roberts returned to Baltimore yesterday and received treatment on his left elbow. Roberts tore a ligament and will undergo surgery within the next two weeks to reattach a tendon to the bone. He'll be examined again today by team physician Dr. Andrew Cosgarea. Perlozzo wasn't sure if Roberts would be in the clubhouse to greet his teammates. "Knowing Brian, I'd like to think he'll come in," Perlozzo said. Roberts didn't return calls to The Sun yesterday.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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