Yankees deflect O's rally in 9th

Winning run scores on tipped grounder

Yankees 7 Orioles 6

August 14, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

NEW YORK -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts picked up the ball right off Derek Jeter's bat. It was coming right toward him, and he figured he'd have plenty of time to field it and then throw home to get the lead runner at the plate.

But as Roberts rushed forward, the ball deflected off the end of pitcher Chad Bradford's outstretched glove. By the time Roberts fielded it, Melky Cabrera was sprinting across home plate and the type of celebration that the Orioles had enjoyed in two of the previous three games was well underway.

A few inches was all that decided the Orioles' 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees last night before an announced 54,398 at Yankee Stadium.

"There's not much you can do," Roberts said. "I would have had him [at home], but as a pitcher, your instincts are to go after the ball."

The Orioles (54-63) took no solace in the fact that they once again came back against one of the American League heavyweights, this time scoring a run in the ninth to tie the game against Mariano Rivera.

The probable Hall of Famer had converted 19 straight save opportunities before Roberts' bloop two-out single to right field scored Tike Redman and tied the game at 6.

Again showing their resilience, which has been one of the club's trademarks since manager Dave Trembley took over, the Orioles rebounded from a third straight disappointing outing from Jeremy Guthrie, who failed to protect the three-run lead he received in the first inning.

They shrugged off the would-be tying run, Melvin Mora, getting thrown out at the plate in the ninth after a good throw by Cabrera and a questionable decision by third base coach Juan Samuel, who later took the blame for the loss.

Trying to play the role of spoilers, the Orioles did everything but find another way to win a game that appeared lost long before the ninth inning.

"I think we've shown that we can battle against anybody," Roberts said. "I don't think that teams, when they get to the seventh, eighth and ninth, think that they have it made. As I've told people before, we have a pretty good team. They were just a little better tonight."

The Orioles' bullpen had thrown 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of an ineffective Guthrie when Bradford (1-5) entered a tie game in the bottom of the ninth. He retired the first batter, Andy Phillips, on a ground ball, but then hit Cabrera in the back with a pitch. Pinch hitter Jason Giambi followed with a single down the right-field line, putting runners on first and third with one out.

Trembley said he didn't consider walking Jeter, who offered a seemingly uncomfortable swing at Bradford's first pitch. But the placement - once the ball hit off Bradford's glove - was perfect.

"It's not a surprise to me anymore," Trembley said. "It's probably a surprise to some people that haven't been following this club for the last 35 or 40 games. That's just the way it is. Our guys play hard. We will not quit."

Mora led off the ninth inning with a single and moved to second on Ramon Hernandez's groundout. That's when Redman, who had never faced Rivera, blooped a single into center field in front of Cabrera, who was playing shallow. Samuel emphatically waved Mora home, but Mora was thrown out by several feet .

Mora and Trembley had no qualms with Samuel's decision, applauding the coach's aggressiveness, especially with Rivera on the mound. However, Samuel saw things differently.

"They were playing very shallow and I think it was a really poor decision by me," Samuel said. "That was my decision that cost us the ballgame. Yes, we tied, but you can't predict what's going to happen next. You have to make your decision on that particular play, and that was a bad one by me."

The Orioles nearly scored the go-ahead run off Rivera. With Roberts at second base after the throw home on Redman, Corey Patterson, who homered earlier in the game, hit a fly ball to the warning track that was caught by Hideki Matsui.

The Orioles scored three times off Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang in the first, but then watched Guthrie give up a bases-empty shot to Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the inning and a two-run homer to Wilson Betemit in the second.

Guthrie allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, his third shortest start of the season. For the second straight start, Guthrie didn't make it through five innings. He's given up two home runs in each of his past three starts.

"His location of his breaking pitches wasn't very good," Trembley said. "Those were the ones that got hit [and] that was it. I thought his fastball command was good, but the breaking ball is what hurt him."

In his past three starts, Guthrie has totaled just 14 innings, allowing 14 earned runs and 26 hits.

"I didn't execute a couple of pitches, but I actually felt as good as I've felt in a long time," Guthrie said.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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