Giants 7, Orioles 3
Perhaps it was fatigue born of 8 hours and 16 minutes of baseball the day before that caused the Baltimore Orioles' arms to fall short, their legs to go heavy, their gloves to betray them. Perhaps it was sleep deprivation that stemmed the flow of blood to Lee Mazzilli's brain and led him to pitch to Barry Bonds twice Sunday with a base open in a close game.
It would be easy to blame the Orioles' shortcomings Sunday on the travails of the day before, when they played 23 innings, endured 782 pitches and split a doubleheader -- except that the San Francisco Giants faced the same set of hardships and managed to look both rested and inspired.
And so, by the end of the Orioles' 7-3 loss in front of 45,728 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Bonds had reached another home run milestone, Orioles starter Sidney Ponson had descended further into his self-inflicted funk, and the Orioles had earned their second tongue-lashing from Mazzilli in three weeks.
"Terrible," Mazzilli said of his team's effort, which produced the Orioles' 15th loss in their last 22 games. "That's not the way we play the game. You play the game like that you lose."
Mazzilli did not reveal the specific targets of his closed-door tirade. But there was no shortage of candidates, including:
* Jerry Hairston and Larry Bigbie, who were picked off first base and second base, respectively, by Giants starter Jerome Williams (6-4) in consecutive innings to destroy scoring threats.
* Ponson (3-8), who gave up a career-high 13 hits and cost the team with his needlessly macho approach to facing Bonds, and as a result lost for the fifth straight start.
* Infielder Luis Lopez, who, starting at third base in place of Melvin Mora, failed to make a pair of critical plays, both of which were generously ruled infield hits.
"I'm not going to make excuses," Lopez said. ". . . . [excuses] all stink."
* And second baseman Brian Roberts, who, for the second consecutive game, misplayed a fly ball in the shallow outfield, this time losing it in an overcast sky.
"You don't think [the sky] is that bright until the ball goes up," Roberts said. "You have to be prepared. I guess I wasn't."
As for Mazzilli, he faced some pointed questions as well -- about his choice to pitch to Bonds in a couple of situations in which other managers have walked him.
In the third inning, Bonds came to the plate with a runner on third and two outs. Catcher Javy Lopez looked into the dugout, and Mazzilli gave him the sign to pitch to Bonds.
"It was early in the game," Mazzilli said of his decision to pitch to Bonds. "If it was late in the game, I'm not going to do that."
Lopez said the plan was to throw fastballs off the plate for balls, with the hope Bonds would chase them. But on the first pitch, Ponson threw one over the plate, and Bonds crushed it onto the flag court in right field for a two-run homer that gave the Giants a 2-1 lead.
"Sidney's like that," Bonds said. "He don't back down from anybody. If he says he's going to come at you, that's what he's going to do."
The homer was measured at only 380 feet and -- in a Baltimore twist to the mad scramble for Bonds's home run balls by kayaking scavengers in San Francisco Bay -- was caught by a middle-aged man who stuck out his trucker's hat and snagged a piece of history.
Mazzilli gave Bonds another chance to affect the outcome in the sixth -- when he came to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs and the Giants leading by two runs -- and Bonds delivered an RBI single to right, through a pronounced infield shift. The pitch "was six inches off the plate," Ponson said. "No one else could have hit that pitch."
Although Bonds, in what was likely the only regular season appearance of his career in Baltimore, failed this weekend to hit the fabled B&O Warehouse -- which made an inviting target in right field -- he homered twice in 18 swings and drew six walks, five intentional.
The spectacle delighted the fans, and when reliever Eddy Rodriguez struck out Pedro Feliz to end the top of the ninth and leave Bonds stranded in the on-deck circle, more fans were booing the denial of another Bonds at-bat than were cheering the home team's good fortune.
Nobody all weekend went after Bonds quite as eagerly as did Ponson, who was Bonds's teammate in San Francisco for three months last season after being traded to the Giants at the July 31 trade deadline. When Bonds came to the plate the first time Sunday, they very subtly tipped their caps to each other.
"I said I was going after him," Ponson said, "and I went after him."
Such bravura may have been a mistake, but on this day it was hardly the Orioles' most egregious.
Orioles Notes: Right fielder Jay Gibbons (back spasms) could be activated from the disabled list Monday in Cleveland. . . . The homer was Bonds's 500th in a Giants uniform, making San Francisco the only franchise with three 500-homer men, the others being Willie Mays (646) and Mel Ott (511).