- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

ORIOLES 7, YANKEES 6

BALTIMORE Baseball was supposed to be secondary. There were matters of much more significance on display at Camden Yards last night, a tribute to those affected by last week's terrorist attacks and a communal show of pride and patriotism as this city attempts to regain a sense of normalcy.

The nation may never truly feel normal again, but for at least one night the events of the past week were pushed aside as a stadium full of baseball fans celebrated the drama and exhilaration that only the national pastime can provide.

The Baltimore Orioles' stunning 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees a game that included ninth-inning rallies by both teams gave those in attendance reason to cheer, something that hasn't happened all that often for the Orioles in a season lost long ago.

Said Jerry Hairston, whose two-run single in the bottom of the ninth gave his team the win: "This is why you play."

Baltimore's first home game since last week's attacks began in solemn fashion, with a touching pregame tribute to the victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and to the men and women of several area fire, search and rescue teams who came to their aid.

By the time the Orioles had rallied against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, thus quashing New York's dramatic rally of its own, the sellout crowd of 47,099 had sprung to life with a rowdy display of emotion that hadn't been seen at Camden Yards in a while.

"Games like tonight do absolute wonders for the development of a young ballclub," said Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove, whose team has come from behind to win on consecutive nights after losing 10 in a row. "The Yankees are the best, and they have been for a while. Any time you can go out and compete with them and come back the way we did, it does wonders for your confidence."

The Orioles' collective confidence had to have been at its lowest point of the evening when New York stormed back to score three runs in the ninth off Willis Roberts and take a 6-5 lead.

"We could have put our heads in the sand and gave up after that," Hairston said. "But we didn't."

Tony Batista led off the ninth with a single over shortstop Derek Jeter's head. Slumping Brady Anderson followed with a hit to right, advancing pinch-runner Brian Roberts to second.

A perfectly executed sacrifice by rookie catcher Geronimo Gil moved the runners to second and third and brought up Hairston, who provided the Orioles' other ninth-inning comeback Aug. 1 with a game-winning home run against Tampa Bay. The No. 9 batter fought off Rivera's signature cut fastball and laced a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of a diving Tino Martinez at first base. Both runners came around to score amid a rousing ovation from the crowd.

"I knew it would stay fair, but I thought Tino was going to catch it," Hairston said. "He made a great effort for it."

Facing Mike Mussina for the third time since the right-hander departed Baltimore for New York last winter, the Orioles scored five early runs thanks to five extra-base hits and staked starter Rick Bauer to a four-run cushion.

Much like in his major league debut three weeks ago against the Seattle Mariners, the right-hander was outstanding, holding the first-place Yankees to one unearned run through the first six innings.

Bauer's stellar effort nearly was wasted, though, when Roberts (8-9) blew the Orioles' two-run ninth-inning lead. Martinez led off the inning by launching a fastball over the right-field scoreboard to get the Yankees within one run. Jorge Posada singled, and following a force out, Scott Brosius drilled Roberts' 1-2 fastball to left field for a two-run homer that gave New York a 6-5 lead.

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