O's rally in ninth falls short

Boston breaks tie with 2 in 9th

J. Lopez's flyout with tying run at second seals 7th straight loss

Red Sox 4 Orioles 3

Baseball

September 25, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

The Orioles played in a meaningful September game yesterday at Camden Yards, where the fans hung on every pitch and the managers used their bullpens as if it were the American League Championship Series.

And then a large majority of the 48,612 that witnessed the 3-hour, 44-minute game departed the stadium in a celebratory mood. Camden Yards had once again turned into Fenway Park South.

Boston shortstop Edgar Renteria dumped a broken-bat two-run single off closer B.J. Ryan into left field to break a ninth-inning tie and beat the Orioles, 4-3, pulling the Red Sox into a first-place tie with the New York Yankees in the AL East.

The Orioles rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth, but Boston closer Mike Timlin got Javy Lopez to fly out to the right field warning track to end the game with the tying run at second base.

"If we would have won, I would have said that it's nice to win a game on the road," Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons said. "That's truly how it is right now. Today was the worst I've ever seen it. You look up in the stands and it was hard to find an orange shirt. I guess I understand, they won the World Series last year and they are on top of the world. We're not."

In fact, it would be hard to argue that the Orioles (70-84) have been any lower this season. Engulfed by embarrassing off-the-field turmoil, they also lost their seventh straight game and are now a season-high 14 games under .500.

Given a chance to play spoiler in the AL East, the Orioles have dropped six straight during the skid to the Yankees and Red Sox. That four of those losses have come by one run seems to indicate that the Orioles haven't packed it in. They just aren't scoring enough runs.

"It's been that way since June," said Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo, who is 19-28 since taking over for the dismissed Lee Mazzilli and is now guaranteed of finishing the season with a losing record record. "We're using our entire bullpen to keep us in ballgames. Those guys are going to get worn out before the season ends. I don't have another answer for you, other than we have to swing the bats and score some runs."

Boston starter Matt Clement walked the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings, but got Luis Matos each time to get out of the jam. The Orioles couldn't muster a hit until Melvin Mora's one-out single in the fifth inning and were held off the scoreboard until Mora's game-tying two-run homer in the seventh off Red Sox rookie reliever Craig Hansen.

The Orioles also scored in the ninth off Boston closer Mike Timlin, as Gibbons, who had three hits and reached base five times, doubled in Bernie Castro. But Timlin retired Lopez to record his 11th save and thwart a vision that Perlozzo had throughout the inning.

"I kept seeing walk-off home runs every time," Perlozzo said. "These are how these [losing streaks] usually end. The gods aren't with us right now."

Neither are the home fans. When the Yankees' final score, a 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, was displayed on the out-of-town scoreboard before the game, the crowd erupted in celebration. When the Red Sox got to Orioles starter Erik Bedard for two runs in the first inning - the only flaw in a solid effort by Bedard, who nonetheless remained winless since Aug. 9 - it became loud again.

Only when Mora connected for the two-run shot, his 22nd of the season, were any Orioles fans seemingly heard from. But they were eventually drowned out as reliever Mike Myers came on and got B.J. Surhoff on a pop-up, stranding runners on second and third and keeping the score tied 2-2.

Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez had a big role in that inning, as he cut off Lopez's double in the gap, holding Gibbons at third before Surhoff was retired.

"It's been like that ever since I've been here," Ryan said of the Red Sox fans in attendance. "They didn't have to win the World Series for it to be like that. When you don't win a lot of games, it's tough to get a lot of people in the seats. That's just way it is."

Ryan's outing symbolized the Orioles' recent run of luck. After getting the first out in the ninth, he allowed an infield single to Trot Nixon, followed by a sliced single to right field by Tony Graffanino. Then after walking Johnny Damon, Ryan jammed Renteria, shattering his bat, only to watch the ball drop in shallow left field.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Red Sox@Orioles

Today, 1:35 p.m., Ch. 54, 1090 AM

Starters: Red Sox's David Wells (13-7, 4.49) vs. Orioles' John Maine (2-2, 4.76)

On the double

On Friday, Miguel Tejada tied the Orioles' record for doubles in a season, set last year by Brian Roberts. The club leaders:

Player Yr. Doubles

Miguel Tejada '05 50

Brian Roberts '04 50

Cal Ripken '83 47

Cal Ripken '91 46

Brian Roberts '05 45

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