O's go from feast to famine in loss

Team can't repeat Tuesday burst

Yankees move atop AL East

Yankees 2, Orioles 1


Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo sat back in his office chair Tuesday night after his team enjoyed its best offensive performance of the season and wondered if the 17-9 victory would have a springboard effect.

He thought about it for a couple of seconds, flashed a wide smile and then reminded reporters that the Orioles were still playing the New York Yankees the following night.

As Perlozzo expected, it wasn't easy.

The Orioles were shut down by Shawn Chacon in the Yankees' 2-1 victory last night that, coupled with Boston's loss to Toronto, put New York in sole possession of first place in the American League East with four games remaining.

Before 30,539 at Camden Yards, Chacon (7-3), whom the Yankees virtually picked up off the scrap heap in Colorado this season, only to watch him develop into one of their top pitchers, allowed only a bases-empty homer by Javy Lopez through 6 2/3 innings.

Relievers Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera finished up, with Rivera striking out Lopez to end the game and pick up his 43rd save.

"We control our destiny," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "Tonight wasn't much fun. It was very, very tough."

The Orioles' 10th loss in 11 games clearly rankled Perlozzo more than any of the previous ones. In his postgame talk with the media, he was short with several answers and even raised his voice at one point, though he later apologized. He didn't offer specifics on his anger, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's strike zone was the apparent reason.

"I'm not happy about this loss for multiple reasons," said Perlozzo, who had a spirited exchange with Wendelstedt after a pitching change during the game. "You can take a guess at them yourself."

The Orioles were particularly angry with a pitch that Daniel Cabrera did not get on a two-strike count to Jorge Posada in the seventh inning, when the Yankees got the winning run on Derek Jeter's RBI single that broke a 1-1 tie. Posada singled off Cabrera on the next pitch.

Bernie Williams was hit in the leg with the next pitch, forcing Perlozzo to remove Cabrera with two on and no out.

"I threw a couple of really good pitches and they didn't give it to me," said Cabrera, who gave up six hits and two earned runs in six innings in his last start of the year. "I can do nothing about it."

He finished the season 10-13 and with a 4.52 ERA, though he was 2-2 with a 2.40 ERA in five September starts.

With runners on second and third and one out after Robinson Cano's sacrifice bunt, Jeter hit a hard grounder that got past the Orioles' pulled-in first baseman, Chris Gomez, to score Posada with the winning run.

Jay Gibbons threw out Williams -- though replays showed Williams' foot touched home before Geronimo Gil's tag -- as he was trying to score on Alex Rodriguez's fly out to end the inning, but for the Orioles, the damage was done.

"There were a few key pitches that, in my opinion, the umpire pretty much missed and that's when their rally started," Lopez said. "Instead of ringing them up, he called it a ball and then the next pitch [Posada] got a base hit. There were a few pitches like that. That was a key factor in the game."

Given a 1-0 lead on Lopez's homer in the second inning -- his second in as many nights -- Cabrera stymied the Yankees for five innings, bringing a two-hit shutout into the sixth. However, Rodriguez, who had struck out in his previous two at-bats, tied the game with a homer to right-center field.

It was Rodriguez's 47th, breaking Joe DiMaggio's 1937 record for most homers in a season by a Yankees right-handed hitter. More importantly for the Yankees, they had broken the ice against Cabrera.

"He was tough on us," Torre said. "He throws so hard. When he grows up or matures, he'll be tough. He's got all the ingredients."

Cabrera, 24, showed the Orioles enough glimpses of brilliance this season to signify he has the potential to be a future staff ace. However, the primary theme of his first full season in the big leagues was inconsistency.

"I thought I finished strong," he said. "Every pitcher wants to do that."

Consider Rodriguez's first two at-bats last night: Cabrera struck him out on a 98-mph fastball in the first inning and got him looking on a third-strike, 97-mph fastball at the knees in the third.

Even the ball that Rodriguez hit out appeared to be a good pitch, though one that one of the game's best hitters was able to handle.

Notes -- One Orioles official said there is "no way" Sammy Sosa will be re-signed. ... Perlozzo said he'd prefer having Melvin Mora bat third next season, but that would depend on finding a solid No. 2 hitter. ... Injured second baseman Brian Roberts is still targeting tomorrow as the day to have the tendon in his left elbow reattached.


Yankees@Orioles Tonight, 7:05, Comcast SportsNet, 1090 AM Starters: Yankees' Aaron Small (9-0, 3.25) vs. Orioles' Erik Bedard (6-7, 3.74)

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