- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

BALTIMORE Cal Ripken couldn't sit out No. 3,000.

Not the penultimate game of his career.

Tonight is Ripken's last game, capping 21 brilliant seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, and he used yesterday's doubleheader and his 3,000th career game as his victory lap.

"At this stage in my career, [normally] I would be taking one of these [games] off," Ripken said. "But I think it's kind of fitting here at the end that it's a tough day, you've been at the ballpark a long time and and you're going to play 18 innings [actually 19]. I want to grind that out. I want to play it. I want to feel it. And I want to come back and play tomorrow."

Yesterday's games were immaterial. The Orioles (63-97) and the Boston Red Sox (81-79) are both hopelessly out of the pennant race, and Ripken was the only reason 47,927 showed up at Camden Yards. The Red Sox shut out the Orioles 5-0 in the first game and won the nightcap 7-5 in 10 innings.

Each time Ripken came to the plate he was given a standing ovation and fans waved orange placards reading, "Thanks, Cal." In the nightcap, thousands of flash bulbs lit up the stadium on every pitch to Ripken.

Unfortunately, Ripken's bat was silent. He collected just one hit in nine at-bats yesterday, a seventh-inning single in the first game. He is 2-for-45 in his past 11 games over 10 days.

Red Sox center fielder Trot Nixon belted his 27th home run off Orioles reliever Willis Roberts (9-12) in the top of the 10th to break a 5-5 tie. In his third game with the team, Tim Raines Sr. hit a two-run homer in the eighth that tied the second game.

Baltimore led 3-2 in the seventh when former Oriole Calvin Pickering drilled a three-run, pinch-hit home run to straightaway center off reliever John Wasdin.

Wasdin, who also blew a lead in Thursday's loss to Boston, wasted a relatively good outing by starter Jose Mercedes. Mercedes, who most likely pitched his last game in an Orioles uniform, went 62/3 innings and allowed four runs on five hits. Mercedes becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and Orioles seem uninterested in bringing the Dominican righthander back.

The Orioles took the 3-2 lead in the sixth inning on four consecutive base hits. With one out, Jeff Conine singled off the leg of Red Sox starter Sun Woo Kim. Designated hitter Chris Richard doubled in Conine with a drive to center field.

Shortstop Tony Batista moved Richard to third on an infield hit to short. Raines Sr., who was acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Montreal Expos, lined a single to left that scored Richard. Raines went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and two singles.

Needing a spot start from someone not in the pitching rotation, Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove turned to former closer Ryan Kohlmeier, who threw four shutout innings during Sunday's 15-inning tie at Yankee Stadium. Kohlmeier (1-2) faltered in the fifth, giving up a home run to Morgan Burkhart, a double to Scott Hatteberg and run-scoring singles to Jose Offerman and Trot Nixon.

"He just ran out of gas," Hargrove said. "We knew we were thin coming in and just tried to get as much as we could out of Ryan."

The day belonged to Boston starter Frank Castillo (10-9), who tossed seven innings of two-hit ball before giving way to Willie Banks.

Orioles reliever Alan Mills did provide an encouraging moment when the veteran right-hander pitched a scoreless ninth inning after not appearing in a game since Aug. 30. Hampered by a lingering shoulder injury, Mills took a two-day leave of absence from the team after his last appearance and contemplated retirement but returned to the Orioles to finish the season.

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