Orioles finally slug way by Yanks

O's offense awakens for most runs of season to end 9-game drought

Orioles 17, Yankees 9

September 28, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles have warned anybody and everybody that this kind of offensive outburst was coming for a long time now. Even as the losses mounted, as the frustration of another poor offensive outing reached its peak, they contended that some pitching staff would pay for a slump that is more than 2 months old.

It finally happened and a long-awaited victory and some measure of retribution were the rewards. The Orioles battered the team's former ace, Mike Mussina, and any other pitcher Yankees manager Joe Torre sent out to the Camden Yards mound in a 17-9 victory in front of 29,557 that broke a season-high nine-game losing streak.

Only Boston's 7-5 loss to Toronto in the second game of a doubleheader yesterday kept the Yankees in a tie for first place in the AL East.

"We've been looking for this for a little while, haven't we?" Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo said after the four-hour and 16-minute marathon, six minutes short of the American League nine-inning record. "Quite a while. It was good to see. It brought me back to reality to see some of the guys swing the bat the way they are capable of."

For one night, the team with the fewest runs in the American League since the All-Star break enjoyed its highest scoring output of the season and its highest since Sept. 28, 2000, when it put up 20 against Toronto. The Orioles had 14 hits with Bernie Castro, Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons having three each and Melvin Mora having two. The first four hitters in the Orioles order were a combined 11-for-19 with 11 runs and 12 RBIs.

"We showed we can still swing the bats even though it's been a couple of months," said Gibbons, 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

Gibbons, Mora and Javy Lopez each hit milestone homers with Gibbons connecting for his 100th, a two-run fourth-inning blast that gave the Orioles an 8-7 lead. Lopez's homer in the fifth was the 250th of his career and spearheaded a five-run inning that essentially put the Yankees away.

Mora added a three-run eighth-inning shot for good measure, the 100th of his career.

"It showed everybody we don't give up," said Mora, who had five RBIs. "It doesn't matter if we are going nowhere, we have to keep playing hard."

Aaron Rakers, who relieved Bruce Chen in the fifth, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for his first major league win. Gary Sheffield did most of the damage for the Yankees with two home runs and six RBIs. He also was robbed of a third homer as left fielder David Newhan leaped over the wall in the seventh inning and brought it back.

Sheffield's fourth-inning grand slam off Chen, his second grand slam off Orioles pitching in a week, had given the Yankees a 7-5 lead and took Mussina off the hook.

In his shortest outing in more than a decade, Mussina allowed seven hits and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, and was booed off the Camden Yards mound. It was the earliest Mussina has been removed from a start since July 13, 1995.

The Orioles' 5-1 advantage, however, disappeared on a couple of swings by Sheffield. He blasted a two-run homer in the third off a changeup from Chen and then came up in the fourth with the bases loaded and two outs. Chen said that he didn't want to get beat with a changeup again, so he opted for a first-pitch fastball. Sheffield jumped on it and hit a towering home run to left field. He raised his right hand after he hit it, knowing that he had just given the Yankees a two-run lead.

"It's hard not to think here we go again, but we came right back," said Gibbons.

In fact, the Yankees' lead didn't even last a half inning. In the fifth, Tejada had an RBI single off converted reliever Al Leiter and Gibbons followed by driving Leiter's 3-2 slider into the right-field seats for his 24th homer of the season.

The Orioles expanded on their 8-7 lead in the fifth with Lopez's bases-empty homer. The Orioles added four more in the inning on two bases-loaded walks, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly from B.J. Surhoff. The lead was 13-7 and counting.

Notes -- Perlozzo said that Rafael Palmeiro arrived at Oriole Park and cleaned out his locker, departing before players and media arrived. ... Injured second baseman Brian Roberts received the 2005 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award in a vote by the members of the media who cover the Orioles. Roberts finished first or second on all 22 ballots cast. Tejada, last year's team MVP, finished second and closer B.J. Ryan was third. ... Roberts will be in Cincinnati today to consult with Reds team doctor Timothy Kremcheck, who performed the ligament transplant on pitcher Jason Grimsley in the offseason. Perlozzo expects the second baseman will have surgery to reattach the tendon in his left elbow on Friday.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Baseball races

A look at the division and wild-card races:

AL EAST W-L GB

New York 92-65 -

Boston 92-65 -

Red Sox split means weekend series against Yanks will decide division. Yanks routed by O's.

AL CENTRAL W-L GB

Chicago 94-63 -

Cleveland 92-65 2

White Sox lost to Tigers, 3-2, and Indians' rally fell short against the Devil Rays, 5-4.

AL WEST W-L GB

Los Angeles 91-66 -

Oakland 85-72 6

Angels clinched division title with 4-3 win over Athletics.

AL WILD CARD W-L GB

Cleveland 92-65 -

Bos./N.Y. 92-65 -

Indians suffer consecutive losses for the first time since Sept. 3-4. Red Sox split doubleheader; Yanks' 7-game win streak against O's ends.

NL WEST W-L GB

San Diego 78-79 -

San Francisco 74-83 4

The Padres beat the Giants, 9-6, for a four-game edge.

NL WILD CARD W-L GB

Houston 86-71 -

Philadelphia 84-74 2 1/2

Phillies lost to Mets, 3-2. Astros beat the Cardinals, 3-1.

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