Sabathia Adds to Orioles' Miseries

Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa's struggles at the plate spread to the whole team Friday as they get only 3 hits in a 3-1 loss against the Indians. (Joe Giza - Reuters)

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By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 2, 2005

BALTIMORE, July 1 -- It is a losing streak that can be seen in Manager Lee Mazzilli's slumped shoulders, in Sal Fasano's distraught face and in Sammy Sosa's at-bats. It is a losing stretch that threatens to turn a once-promising season into a second-half survival for third place. It is not just the sweltering heat that has made Baltimore fans uncomfortable. They fidget in their seats because of their beloved Orioles' recent slump. The Orioles, 3-1 losers to the Cleveland Indians on Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, have won once since June 22 and have lost nine of their past 11 games.

But even in the middle of a losing streak, there are few who can keep the Baltimore Orioles' mighty offense quiet. On Friday it was a mountain of a man, with his cap tipped sideways hip-hop style, who made Baltimore's offense appear ordinary. C.C. Sabathia turned in 7 2/3 splendid innings and helped continue Baltimore's fall from the ranks of the elite.

Perhaps the Orioles thought they had left their problems behind in June. Baltimore went 12-15 and lost eight of its last 10 games in the month.

"We're still in the race," said Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez, who yielded three earned runs in seven innings. "We're just going through some bad moments. All teams have these slumps throughout the year."

Clearly, pitching has been a problem. No Orioles pitcher had been credited with a quality start in the 10 games prior to Friday. Baltimore starters went 1-6 with a 7.51 ERA in that 10-game span.

But the Orioles lost even on a night when Lopez gave them the quality start they had lacked. Lopez (7-4) lost for only the second time since May 25.

Lopez cruised through the first five innings but the Indians struck for three runs in the sixth. The inning changed dramatically when Ronnie Belliard reached on an infield single with no outs and men on first and second base.

On a 1-2 count, Belliard barely struck Lopez's pitch and sent a high chopper to third baseman Chris Gomez, who did not make the throw in time to first base.

"If that ball hits in front of the plate he is out," Fasano said.

Baltimore's recent slide has some players creating new words for the team's run of bad luck.

"That's the flukeness of baseball," Fasano said, "if that's a word."

Two runs in the inning scored on sacrifice flies and another on a double by Josh Bard.


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