O's drop eighth in row, see error of losing ways

Red Sox capitalize on poor defense, mental mistakes

Red Sox 9, Orioles 3

September 26, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

His players had already absorbed enough punishment, so in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 9-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox yesterday before 46,559 at Camden Yards, interim manager Sam Perlozzo decided to heap more abuse on himself.

As the Red Sox were putting the finishing touches on a humbling three-game sweep, leaving the Orioles with an eight-game losing streak that matched a season high, Perlozzo peered up at the Boston-partisan crowd that was standing and applauding in anticipation of the game's final out.

"I said to myself, `Take a look at this. You've seen it enough, and I don't want to see it no more,'" Perlozzo said. "In the long scheme of things, we don't want our Septembers to be like this anymore. That's the attitude I take. `Take a look at it, boys. Go ahead. See all the people standing. That's not going to happen again, so let's learn something from it, let's get that bad taste in our mouth and let's make sure we don't have to see that again.'"

There was just one thing that stopped Perlozzo from delivering the message to his players.

"We still have four more games of Yankees [fans] to listen to," he said. "So the last night, when we kick their butt, that's what [the Orioles' players] will hear. They'll hear, `Look, we're sending [Yankees fans] home quiet, boys, and it's not going to happen next year. Do you hear it?' That's what I want to be able to say Thursday."

That, of course, is contingent on whether the Orioles (70-85) can figure out again how to win. With 11 games against Boston and New York - who are currently in a first-place tie in the American League East - over the last two weeks of the season, the Orioles were supposed to have a major impact on the pennant race.

However, all they've done is allow the Yankees and Red Sox to fatten their win totals, losing seven straight to the two teams, with four more games with the Yankees, starting tonight. The Orioles haven't exactly rolled over, losing four of those seven games by one run.

But yesterday brought plenty of ominous signs. They were flat early, sloppy throughout and unable to mount much offense - again - on Boston starter David Wells, who pitched 6 2/3 solid innings before leaving with knee pain.

After getting the first two Red Sox out to start the game, Orioles starter John Maine "lost his aggressiveness," according to Perlozzo, walking David Ortiz and surrendering a two-run homer to Manny Ramirez. Maine, a 24-year-old rookie who got only three outs in his previous start in New York, lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and four walks.

"I have a job to do, and I haven't done it in the last two starts," he said.

Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada compounded the Red Sox's five-run first with a mental lapse. With Boston runners at first and second on the move because of the 3-2 count on John Olerud, Tejada appeared to break toward second base on the pitch - to needlessly cover the bag. He was not in position to field Olerud's grounder in the hole.

Tejada said he didn't move to cover the base, rather the ball took a bad hop - "What can I do? I am not Superman," he said - but he did shoulder the blame for what happened next. On Eric Byrnes' relay, the shortstop held the ball too long before throwing home, allowing Jason Varitek to score from first and Olerud to get to second.

Tejada, who did hit his 26th homer in the first inning, also committed a critical error - mishandling a ground ball in the fifth - that prolonged the Red Sox's inning long enough for Johnny Damon to hit a two-run homer off James Baldwin.

"I am OK," Tejada said, denying that his name being mentioned publicly earlier last week in the Rafael Palmeiro steroid case has become a distraction. "I don't have nothing to be worried about. The only thing I worry about is the way we play. We're not winning."

Perlozzo still is not questioning his team's effort.

"Sure, there is a guy that might not run down to first full speed," he said. "What are we going to do? Maybe, he won't be here next year. I am learning a lot about everybody at this time of year, too. You have to look at the big picture, and the big picture is we don't want this to happen anymore."

Notes -- Perlozzo said he'd prefer keeping Jay Gibbons in the outfield, rather than using him at first base next season. Asked who he sees as the Orioles' closer if free agent B.J. Ryan does not re-sign, Perlozzo said that as of now, he does not think the answer is currently on the Orioles' roster. He said the Orioles risk "losing" Chris Ray if they try to establish him as the closer too early. ... Melvin Mora and Tejada hit back-to-back homers off Wells in the first, marking the Orioles' first multi-home run game since Sept. 1.jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Yankees @ Orioles Tonight, 7:05, CSN

Starters: Yankees' Randy Johnson (15-8) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (14-11)

Baseball races

AL East: The Yankees kept pace with the Red Sox and maintained their tie for first place. The Blue Jays are in Boston today, and the Yankees are at Camden Yards.

AL Central: The White Sox have opened up a 2 1/2 -game lead and play in Detroit today.

AL West: The Angels' eight-game winning streak ended, leaving them four in front of Oakland. The A's lost to Texas last night before starting a four-game series with the Angels in Oakland tonight.

AL wild card: Though they have won 17 of their past 20, the Indians hold just a half-game lead over the Yankees and Red Sox. Cleveland is off today.

NL wild card: The Astros have a one-game lead over the Phillies. The Mets come to Philadelphia tonight, while Houston is off.

Coverage 5-8D

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