- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2000

CHICAGO As the hotel advertisement says, never underestimate the importance of a good night's rest. Just ask the Baltimore Orioles.

A night after they sleepwalked their way to just two hits because they spent all of Sunday night flying from California to Chicago, a well-rested Orioles team regained the spring in its step and the pop in its bat as it took advantage of some sloppy defense in a 12-6 win over the White Sox before 11,658 at Comiskey Park.

The win snapped the Orioles' two-game skid and combined with the New York Yankees' loss to Minnesota moved them back into a first place tie in the American League East.

An exhausted Orioles team slept well Monday night even after an 8-2 loss.

"I'm gonna sleep good tonight, too," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "The way to win in baseball is to win more than you lose and you do that by stopping [losing] slides early."

Pat Rapp got his staff-leading third win of the season but only because the Orioles (12-7) gave him the kind of run support that would make Mike Mussina drool. Rapp gave up five runs in as many innings then watched the Baltimore bullpen give a decent performance.

"It should have been a night where I gave the team seven or eight innings," Rapp said. "But I went to [a count of] 3-2 on a lot of hitters."

With the White Sox (13-7) starting southpaw Mike Sirotka, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove sat left-handed hitters Harold Baines and Will Clark and started reserves Rich Amaral and Jeff Conine.

The move worked as Amaral gave the Orioles two hits, two walks and two RBI. However, it was a pair of left-handers Hargrove kept in the lineup who provided a bulk of the offense.

Leadoff hitter Brady Anderson, who moved to designated hitter with Amaral replacing him in center field, had a pair of doubles and two RBI. And Delino DeShields reached base the first five times he came to the plate, getting two singles, a double, two walks and three RBI.

"Tonight we got some big hits from Brady Anderson and Delino DeShields," said Hargrove. The production from Anderson was a particularly good sign because he entered the game hitting .226. "He swung the bat well. Brady's too good a hitter to hit .230 all season."

Chicago's poor defense has been overshadowed because the White Sox are off to a strong start and are leading the A.L. in hitting and scoring. However Chicago entered the game as the league's worst defensive team, committing more than one error per game. Last night, shoddy fielding played a role in both of the Orioles' early rallies.

With two outs in the second and Cal Ripken on third, Mike Bordick hit a sharp grounder that third baseman Greg Norton booted, allowing Ripken to score to make it 1-0.

Instead of being out of the inning, Sirotka gave up an RBI double to Anderson, who later scored on a DeShields single to make it 3-0.

In the third, Conine walked and after Ripken extend his hitting streak to nine games with a bloop single, Conine scored on a Charles Johnson shot up the middle. Amaral followed with a triple and scored on a fly ball by Bordick that right fielder Magglio Ordonez dropped.

That error left men on base for Anderson and DeShields and each got an RBI as the Orioles went up 9-3.

Rapp occasionally has had trouble finding the strike zone and tends to fall behind hitters. He was able to avoid getting behind in the count for most of the game, but when did fall behind he got into trouble.

In the second, Paul Konerko, Chris Singleton, Greg Norton and Mark Johnson all got base hits as the White Sox scored a pair to cut the Orioles lead to 3-2.

In the fifth, Rapp walked Frank Thomas and then gave up a 3-2 single to Ordonez. Trying to find the strike zone, Rapp threw his next pitch over the plate and Konerko planted it behind the left field wall to make it 9-5.

"In the fifth it seemed like [Rapp] was behind every batter 3-1, 3-2 and it caught up to him," Hargrove said. "But I don't want to make it sound like Pat pitched poorly. For the most part, he made the pitches he needed to."

The Orioles added two insurance runs in the seventh and another in the ninth on a homer by B.J. Surhoff. The insurance wasn't needed as four Orioles relievers pitched the final four innings, giving up just one run.

Notes Reliever Calvin Maduro, who had to leave the game in the sixth after just two batters, said X-rays on his right shin came back negative. Maduro was struck by a hard hit come-backer from Norton and probably won't be available until Friday.

Third base prospect Ryan Minor is off to a great start at Class AAA Rochester, leading the team in hitting (.317) homers (four), RBI (15) and walks (7) but his chances of making it to the majors any time soon remain slim. Minor, who hit .342 in spring training, plays third and first base, meaning he's behind Cal Ripken, Will Clark and Jeff Conine on the Orioles depth chart.

Despite an unstable bullpen that could use another reliable arm, Orioles vice president of baseball operations Syd Thift says he has no intention of trading Minor, the club's 1998 prospect of the year, for a relief pitcher.

"I want to keep him," said Thrift. "And teams know that. They don't even bother calling to ask him about him because they know I won't trade him."

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