- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2000

BRAVES 6 - ORIOLES 3

BALTIMORE The Baltimore Orioles spent the first game of the second half of the season repeating something they did often in the first half not scoring enough runs for Mike Mussina.

The Orioles' ace flirted briefly with perfection and ultimately allowed six hits, but because his teammates failed to score enough runs for him, Mussina still came out on the losing end of a 6-3 decision to the Atlanta Braves before a sellout crowd of 47,284 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (38-49) were hoping a strong start to the second half would put them in striking distance of the American League East lead while avoiding a sell-off of their high-priced talent.

The Braves, in first place in the National League East, improved to 53-36.

Before the All-Star break, the Orioles had been one of the better teams at home (23-13), and with 17 of their next 20 games at Camden Yards, there was reason to think the club was capable of starting a surge.

Early on, Mussina did his part, breezing through the first 13 batters as a part of a sexy match-up with the Braves' Greg Maddux.

Mussina entered the game with a 3.68 ERA, fourth lowest in the AL, but because the Orioles have scored so little for him, he was only 6-7. The latest loss was the 12th time in his 20 starts that the Orioles have scored three or fewer runs when Mussina pitches.

Given that paltry support, the last thing Mussina needed was to face a four-time Cy Young Award winner, but the Orioles actually created a few early chances. They went ahead in the first inning when Will Clark scored from first on a double by Harold Baines.

Mussina's perfect game was broken up with one out in the fourth on a double by Andruw Jones. After Chipper Jones walked, Brian Jordan smacked another double to tie the game, and Andres Galarraga's groundout and Wally Joyner's single made it 3-1.

The Orioles tied it in the fifth on Albert Belle's run-scoring and B.J. Surhoff's fielder's choice. However, Galarraga led off the Braves' seventh with a single, went to second on a grounder and scored the go-ahead run on a single by ex-Oriole Bobby Bonilla that just got past second baseman Delino DeShields.

Belle had the Orioles' best chance to tie the game again in the eighth, sending a hard-hit shot off Kerry Ligtenberg to deep center field only to see it caught at the wall by Andruw Jones. Other than that, Baltimore's bats were quiet down the stretch as the Orioles managed only Mike Bordick's single over last four innings.

Galarraga, who made the All-Star team this year at age 39 after missing last season with a form of cancer, helped the Braves get an insurance run in the ninth after he was hit by Mussina. Pinch-runner Rafael Furcal scored on a single by Reggie Sanders, and Sanders scored on an error by Mussina.

The victory allowed the Braves (53-36) to boost their National League East lead over the New York Mets to four games.

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