Angels 4, Orioles 2
-- On the giant video screen, the Anaheim Angels had their mascot, the Rally Monkey, inciting the crowd to madness. On the mound, the Baltimore Orioles had their rally-destroyer, B.J. Ryan, warming up. Riding an eight-game winning streak, engaged in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh, doubtful of the power of a two-dimensional promotional gimmick, the Orioles liked their chances.
But the Orioles' winning streak and a small measure of Ryan's aura of invincibility perished Wednesday night, while the Rally Monkey lives on. The Angels scored three runs with Ryan on the mound in the seventh, stealing a 4-2 victory in front of 41,446 fans at Angel Stadium.
The winning streak had been the Orioles' longest in five years, and truth be told it ended not at the hand of the Rally Monkey, but by the bat of Garret Anderson.
Ryan, the Orioles' top left-handed reliever, entered in relief of right-hander Jason Grimsley with two outs in the seventh, after Grimsley (4-6) gave up a double, threw away a comebacker for an error and limped off the mound with a recurrence of the strained hip flexor that first cropped up two days earlier in Baltimore.
"We'd been playing so well," Grimsley said. "To throw away a ballgame in the fashion that I did doesn't sit well."
With a base open, the Orioles chose to walk Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero -- who had homered off Orioles starter Erik Bedard to tie the game an inning earlier -- to pitch to Anderson, a left-handed hitter, with the bases loaded. Ryan has been excellent all season, but especially when facing lefties, who were hitting just .068 (5 for 73) against him entering the game.
But Anderson reached out and lined a single into left, scoring a pair of runs and giving the Angels the lead. Jose Guillen followed by ripping an RBI double to right-center.
"It was a good pitch but to a guy like that a good pitch won't cut it," Ryan said. "He's a very good hitter."
One night after securing win No. 8 on their winning streak with a season-high 20 hits, the Orioles were handcuffed by three Angels pitchers: starter Kelvim Escobar; set-up man Francisco Rodriguez, who is to right-handed batters what Ryan is to lefties; and closer Troy Percival, who collected the 305th save of his career despite allowing a leadoff homer to B.J. Surhoff.
The Orioles entered the game sporting a lineup with six .300 hitters and a team batting average of .282 that ranked third in the league. But it took them five innings -- and an egregious act of carelessness on the part of Guillen, the Angels' left fielder -- for the Orioles to break through against Escobar.
With two outs, leadoff man Brian Roberts poked a soft liner past Angels third baseman Robb Quinlan and into the left field corner. Guillen tracked the ball down, kicked it, then gave up in disgust as the ball rolled away.
Meantime, Roberts was undecided as to whether to keep going to third, finally sprinting over when he saw Guillen -- who by this point had decided he might as well retrieve the ball -- fall down while making that effort. The play was ruled correctly as a double, plus an error on Guillen.
Sure enough, on Escobar's next pitch, Orioles designated hitter David Newhan stroked a single to left-center to score Roberts. Had Roberts been held to a double on the preceding play, there might have been a play at the plate on Newhan's single. Instead, the Orioles had a 1-0 lead.
Under other circumstances, Bedard might have been in Athens this week, preparing to take the field with Team Canada in the Olympics; Canadian team officials asked the Orioles this spring for permission to take Bedard to Greece, and permission was granted -- provided Bedard was not in the majors at the time.
But except for a few weeks in April, Bedard has remained in the majors the entire season, removing him from Olympic team consideration. His big league season to this point has been a mixture of dazzling promise and maddening shortcomings.
Bedard was working on a one-hit shutout Wednesday night when Guerrero came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth. On a 1-0 pitch, Bedard tried to go down and in with a slider, but Guerrero yanked it over the wall in left for a home run, his 25th of the season.
Bedard did not survive the inning, getting the hook with two outs and a runner on first, with his pitch count already at 98. It was the 20th time in 21 big league starts that Bedard has failed to complete seven innings, an indication that Bedard still has not quite figured out how to harness his exceptional stuff in order to pitch deeper into games.
Orioles Notes: Center fielder Luis Matos had surgery Wednesday in Baltimore to have a metal rod inserted into his fractured right shin. Trainer Richie Bancells said Matos will be on crutches for 7-10 days and will be unable to run for about three months. Matos will do the bulk of his rehabilitation in his native Puerto Rico and should be ready for spring training. . . .
Left-hander Adam Loewen, the team's top-ranked pitching prospect, continues to have command problems at low Class A Delmarva. On Wednesday night, Loewen walked six batters in five innings in the Shorebirds' 4-2 loss to Asheville. Loewen is 3-5 with a 4.48 ERA, having issued 54 walks in 761/3 innings.