Orioles Finally Slug Way By Yanks

Orioles bats awaken 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 rout in front of 29,557 last night 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.

The team with the fewest runs in the American League since the All-Star break, the Orioles achieved their highest scoring output of the season. They had 14 hits with Bernie Castro, Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons having three each.

Gibbons, Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez hit milestone homers with Gibbons connecting for his 100th, a two-run fourth-inning blast that gave the Orioles an 8-7 lead. He had four RBIs on the night. Lopez's bases-empty homer in the fifth was the 250th of his career and spearheaded a five-run inning that for all intents and purposes, put the Yankees away. Mora's three-run shot in the eighth was his 100th.

Aaron Rakers, who relieved Bruce Chen in the fifth, pitched 2M-- 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, who beat the Orioles last Thursday in his first start in nearly three weeks because of right elbow inflammation, allowed seven hits and five earned runs in just 1M-. innings, and was booed off the Camden Yards mound. The last batter he faced, Gibbons, scored Mora with an RBI single that buoyed the Orioles to a 5-1 lead.

It was the earliest Mussina has been removed from a start since July 13, 1995, when he was yanked after just two- thirds of an inning against Kansas City.

The Orioles" 5-1 advantage, however, disappeared on a couple of swings by Sheffield. He blasted a two-run homer in the third off Chen and then came up in the fourth with the bases loaded and two outs. After allowing a single to Bernie Williams and walking Bubba Crosby, Chen struck out Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez - both looking - and appeared on his way to getting out of the inning.

But he then walked Jason Giambi for the third time, loading the bases and placing a key decision in the hands of Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. Right-hander Rakers was ready in the bullpen and Sheffield was 9-for-23 for his career against Chen with four home runs. Perlozzo consulted in the dugout with Daniel Cabrera, who as tonight's starter, was charting the pitches for the game.

He opted to let Chen face Sheffield and Sheffield jumped on Chen's first pitch and hit a towering home run to left field. He raised his right hand in the air after he hit it, know ing that he had just given the Yankees a two-run lead.

The Yankees' lead didn't even last half an 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, but the Orioles bullpen still had to hold off the Yankees for four more innings.

Notes -- 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. With two hits last night, giving him 2,215 for his career, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams moved past Joe DiMaggio for sole possession of fourth place on the team's all-time hit list.

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 90-66 -

Oakland 85-71 5

Teams played late in Oakland.

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 at Minnesota. Red Sox split doubleheader with Blue Jays; Yanks' 7-game win streak against O's ends.

NL WEST W-L GB

San Diego 77-79 -

San Francisco 74-82 3

Teams played late in San Diego

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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