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O's Bullpen Falters Once More

Devil Rays 8, Orioles 7

By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 5, 2004; Page D07

BALTIMORE, June 4 -- With the sting of a three-game sweep to the division-leading Yankees still fresh -- a sweep that included the Orioles blowing leads in each game at Yankee Stadium -- Baltimore came home Friday night against the bottom-feeding Tampa Bay Devil Rays and continued its staggering run of bullpen ineffectiveness.

This time, the Orioles squandered a pair of one-run leads, including one in the ninth inning, and went on to lose to the Devil Rays, 8-7, in 11 innings.


Tampa Bay's Toby Hall slides in with a double as Miguel Tejada is unable to field the throw. (Nick Wass -- AP)

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The Orioles fall to the Devil Rays, 8-7, in 11 innings.
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Pinch hitter Fred McGriff's single off reliever Mike DeJean (0-5) scored Julio Lugo for the Devil Rays' winning run in the 11th.

The loss, the Orioles' fourth straight, dropped Baltimore to 24-27.

"You've got to hold them down when you get the lead," Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "We came back, took the lead and took the lead again. But we gave it up."

The game was played in a steady shower that was heavy at times, but plate umpire Lazaro Diaz never called for the tarp.

"We had our chances, but we couldn't get it done," Melvin Mora said. "That's what makes it so tough and frustrating because we came back and then we lost it at the end."

Rafael Palmeiro's eighth-inning sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a 7-6 lead, but closer Jorge Julio was not able to close out, working into a bases-loaded, no-out jam to open the ninth. He was fortunate to escape with the game tied, saved by a diving stop by second baseman Brian Roberts off the bat of Jose Cruz Jr. The fielder's choice scored a run, but Julio was able to avoid further damage.

Lugo led off the 11th inning with an infield single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when McGriff grounded a single past a drawn-in infield into right.

The win, a marathon lasting more than four hours, was the fourth in five games for Tampa Bay (21-32).

Tampa Bay reliever Lance Carter (2-2) picked up the win for pitching three scoreless innings, and Danys Baez retired the side in the 11th for his 11th save.

Five Baltimore relievers -- Rick Bauer, B.J. Ryan, Julio, DeJean and Buddy Groom -- combined to allow three runs on eight hits in eight innings after starter Erik Bedard allowed five runs in three innings.

Bedard fell apart in the third when he walked Cruz to load the bases after trailing, 2-0. Having seen Bedard throw 77 pitches in just 2 2/3 innings, Mazzilli walked to the mound to try to calm his pitcher. What Mazzilli said to Bedard worked for two pitches, as Bedard got two quick strikes on Tino Martinez, but Martinez blasted his next pitch off the top of the right field foul pole for a 5-0 lead.

Bedard got out of the inning by inducing Toby Hall to ground out, but his night was over.

The Orioles responded against Tampa Bay starter Victor Zambrano in the third. Larry Bigbie singled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a double down the left field line by Jerry Hairston. Roberts walked to load the bases, and Mora promptly made it a one-run game with his first career grand slam.

"I don't know if I should be happy because in the end, we still lost," said Mora, who also drew three of the Tampa Bay's franchise record-tying 12 walks.

The Orioles took the lead in the fourth when Luis Matos walked with the bases loaded, following a sacrifice fly from Roberts earlier in the inning.

Ryan relieved Bauer in the seventh and promptly allowed Tampa Bay to tie the game when he gave up a two-out single to Cruz that scored Lugo.

"We made some mistakes, and we gave the lead away, but we're starting to show some confidence as a team," Devil Rays Manager Lou Piniella said. "It's starting to show. We're winning some close ballgames."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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