O's Left Low by High Fly

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 26, 2005

ATLANTA, June 25 -- The Atlanta Braves star was certain his hit had a chance to be a home run because he had put all his energy into the mighty swing. The Baltimore Orioles manager was not sure because the ball seemed to sail high into the bright Atlanta sky, perhaps too high, and fell near the left field fence. The left fielder, listed at 5 feet 10 inches, ran toward the wall, certain if he leaped he could make a play.

David Newhan jumped at the wall but was just inches short of making a catch. Instead, Andruw Jones's game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Braves' 5-4 victory Saturday sent Baltimore to a season-high fourth consecutive loss and left Manager Lee Mazzilli to ponder his substitutions.

Because of injuries, Mazzilli could make very few moves, but he did insert Newhan into the lineup late in the game as part of a double switch, replacing lanky Larry Bigbie.

"I should have left the 6-4 guy out there," Mazzilli said.

"Heredity is a bitch," Newhan said. "I'm only so tall."

The situation appears bleak for Baltimore. The Orioles have lost nine of their last 11 road games and are a season-high 1 1/2 games out of first place. Since Monday, they have lost 4 1/2 games in the standings to the Boston Red Sox, who have won 11 of 12.

"We have a long way to go, but we don't want to get too far behind," Newhan said.

Injuries are limiting the Orioles' options. Third baseman Melvin Mora (strained right hamstring) and outfielder Eli Marrero (bad back) were unable to play. Only Newhan and Jay Gibbons were available to pinch-hit.

Backup catcher Geronimo Gil was only to be used in an emergency situation. That situation surfaced in the top of the ninth when, with the score tied at 4, Mazzilli sent Gil to hit against righty Jorge Vasquez with the bases loaded. Gibbons and Newhan had already pinch-hit. Gil, who entered the game hitting just .217 against right-handed pitchers, grounded into a double play.

"We ran out of options," Mazzilli said. "It's not helping especially when we're coming to an NL park. Yeah, it's crippling. You only have two guys and two moves you can make. You're deadlocked."

For the second consecutive day the Orioles made a stirring comeback that fell short. Trailing 4-1, Baltimore scored three runs in the ninth inning against Braves closer Chris Reitsma.

"It's unfortunate to battle back that hard and then lose," catcher Sal Fasano said.

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