- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

RED SOX 9, ORIOLES 6

BOSTON The Boston Red Sox's 9-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night was played before a nearly full house at Fenway Park, perhaps as great a testament to Cal Ripken's drawing power as anything else.

Aside from the fact that the Iron Man was playing his second-to-last game at this storied ballpark, there wasn't much reason for fans to turn out in such droves.

Though it's been fairly apparent for some time, the Orioles and Red Sox are now officially playing out the string. The New York Yankees' clinched the American League East title Tuesday. Baltimore was eliminated long ago.

That left the 31,603 fans on a chilly late September evening with one reason to get excited: Ripken. Relegated to designated hitter duties as he attempts to start every game down the stretch, Ripken was very much a non-factor, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Yet he still continues to receive standing ovations each time he comes to bat and will undoubtedly hear plenty of cheers tonight when the Red Sox honor him before his final Fenway appearance.

Rick Bauer deserved a standing ovation of his own from the spectators, but hardly for the same reasons. The Orioles' right-hander spent three innings serving as a human punching bag for the Red Sox, who took out their frustrations of the past month on the unsuspecting rookie.

Making his fourth career start, Bauer (0-3) was tagged for seven runs, six earned, and left after three innings having thrown a whopping 79 pitches.

"His problem, and our problem lately, has been with two strikes, putting away people, expanding the zone and making them hit our pitch," catcher Brook Fordyce said. "He threw too many strikes in my opinion. With 0-2, 1-2 [counts], he left too many pitches up over the plate."

Bauer, who had given up just six earned runs in his first 16 innings, was undone in the third, when he allowed six straight hits, starting with a two-strike double by Doug Mirabelli and capped by Brian Daubach's 410-foot two-run homer over the right-field bullpens.

"Up until the hanging slider to Mirabelli, he was throwing the ball well," manager Mike Hargrove said. "After that, everything was up in the strike zone, his slider got flat and I think his arm slot dropped a bit. He just never could recover from it."

Trailing by six runs through three innings and by eight through five, the Orioles were left trying to dig themselves out of a significant hole. For six innings against rookie left-hander Casey Fossum, that proved to be an impossible task. In the seventh, though, Baltimore finally came alive to score five runs.

Tony Batista led off with a moon shot off the Green Monster for his second double of the night and his seventh multi-hit game in a row. Recent acquisition Casey Blake, making his first start with the Orioles, did Batista one better by launching an 0-2 pitch from Fossum (3-1) over the famed wall and entirely out of the ballpark.

Claimed off waivers from Minnesota last week, the 28-year-old Blake has primarily played third base during his brief career. But with Ripken and Batista holding down that position the rest of this year, Hargrove approached him before the game and asked if he had ever played first base. Blake said he had, and the next thing he knew he was taking grounders during batting practice.

Fossum continued to struggle following the Blake homer. Fordyce, who drove in Baltimore's first run with a second-inning single, doubled to left field. Jerry Hairston then drew a walk, bringing portly reliever Rich Garces out of the Boston bullpen. Luis Matos, making his 10th straight start in the outfield, blasted a three-run homer to left-center on the second pitch, cutting the deficit to three.

The rally fizzled after that as Rod Beck pitched a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox, and closer Ugueth Urbina retired the side in the ninth for his seventh save.

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