O's Can't Shake Off White Sox In Loss
Team Strands 11 Runners As Chicago Rallies Late : White Sox 6, Orioles 5
By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2004; Page D01
BALTIMORE, May 5 -- Though it was only a few poor pitches by Baltimore reliever B.J. Ryan that ultimately enabled the Chicago White Sox to rally for a 6-5 victory, the defeat fell just as much on an offense that consistently was one key hit short of breaking the game open.
The Orioles (13-12) stranded 11 runners and three times loaded the bases but came away with only three runs in those situations.
Trailing 4-3 in the seventh, the White Sox (17-10) rallied for two runs and added what turned out to be a key insurance run in the eighth. It was just the Orioles' second loss in 10 games when leading after six innings.
"We let this game get away," catcher Javy Lopez said. "This is a game we should have gotten."
After Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson opened the seventh inning by yielding a double to left by Miguel Olivo, he was replaced by Ryan, who had been one of the team's most reliable relievers. Ryan (1-1) started off well by inducing Willie Harris to pop his bunt to third baseman Melvin Mora, but gave up a run-scoring triple to Juan Uribe and a bloop single to Magglio Ordoñez that fell just over the outstretched arm of second baseman Brian Roberts.
"I made a good pitch to [Ordoñez], but it was the one to Uribe that hurt," Ryan said. "I made two bad pitches and they get magnified in the late innings in the game."
After the White Sox extended their lead on Aaron Rowland's run-scoring double in the eighth, the Orioles loaded the bases in the ninth with no one out against closer Billy Koch, yet failed one final time to get the key hit.
Lopez pulled the Orioles to 6-5 with a sacrifice fly to right, and Miguel Tejada took third when Jay Gibbons grounded into a fielder's choice. But with the tying run 90 feet away, Koch got Luis Matos to ground out to first to earn his fifth save of the season.
It didn't take long for Chicago to get to Ponson, who was coming off two disastrous starts in which he had been shelled for 16 runs -- 13 earned -- on 19 hits in a combined nine innings in lopsided losses to Toronto and Cleveland.
Ponson yielded two runs in the second but settled down afterward before struggling to start the seventh. His final line included four runs, eight hits, three strikeouts and two walks.
"They gave me the lead twice and I gave it away," Ponson said. "If you want someone to blame, I blame myself."
The Orioles drew even in the third against Chicago starter Mark Buehrle with a bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly. But Buehrle, who hasn't won in nearly a month and had an ERA of 8.06 in his last four starts, escaped further harm as Rafael Palmeiro flied weakly to left field and Lopez ended the inning by grounding into a fielder's choice.
The Orioles took a 3-2 lead when Gibbons smacked Buehrle's second pitch of the fourth inning over the right field scoreboard, but Ponson gave the advantage right back when he gave up Frank Thomas's run-scoring double with two outs in the fifth.
Baltimore had an opportunity to regain the lead in its next at-bat, but couldn't capitalize. Roberts extended his hitting streak to nine games by lining a double just past the outstretched glove of diving left fielder Carlos Lee, and advanced to third on Mora's groundout. But Tejada was unable to drive Roberts home when his grounder was fielded by third baseman Joe Crede, who threw home just in time to get Roberts.
Lopez gave the Orioles the lead in the sixth by hitting a home run to center and, after Buehrle retired the next two batters, he yielded three straight singles to load the bases before being relieved by Shingo Takatsu. Takatsu (2-0) managed to keep the Orioles from pulling away by getting Mora to pop out to first base.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company