- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000


BALTIMORE In their first games following the Purge of 2000 the dealing of seven players to contending teams before the July 31 trade deadline the Baltimore Orioles showed few miscues from their newly acquired young players.

Some did slip through the cracks in yesterday's 10-6 loss to Minnesota, but two veterans came up short as well in a defeat that snapped a four-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Orioles won their second consecutive series heading into a 10-game road trip that begins tomorrow at Tampa Bay.

The Twins chalked up three unearned runs in the first inning with the help of an error by Orioles rookie first baseman Chris Richard and never trailed. Minnesota ace Brad Radke (8-11) got knocked around but ended up with the win. The Orioles left 10 runners stranded, due largely to Albert Belle's lack of production.

"We still make some young, inexperienced mistakes that, up until today, hadn't cost us," manager Mike Hargrove said.

Belle came up with a runner in scoring position in every at-bat but went 0-for-5 with an RBI; he received smatterings of boos from fans after his sixth-inning and eighth-inning outs. Alone, Belle stranded eight runners for the game.

Minnesota played small ball in beating the Orioles and losing pitcher Pat Rapp (6-8), who permitted nine hits in 5 2/3 innings but just one extra-base hit. Eleven of the Twins' 14 hits were singles, and the other three were doubles. The Twins scored on three of the four Rapp walks and bounced single after single through the Orioles infield.

In an era of bulked-up hitters and towering home runs, Minnesota deviates from the norm. The Twins are the major leagues' least powerful team, having hit the fewest homers in baseball by more than 20.

The nickel-and-dime hits made for a frustrating outing for Rapp, who yielded six earned runs to mark the fifth consecutive start he has allowed four or more earned runs.

"I didn't think they hit the ball that hard," said Rapp, whose ERA rose to 6.27. "They just kept squiggling stuff through and over the infield. It wasn't like they were taking me deep."

Weak-hitting outfielder Torii Hunter entered the game hitting .190 before singling four times, with three hits coming off Rapp.

"Pat's better than that, but he gave us a chance to win," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He did a good job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone. The error in the first inning hurt him."

Things unfolded for the Orioles and Rapp in the sixth. Trailing 5-4 with one on, Rapp battled No. 9 hitter Dan Ardoin but issued a two-out walk. Cristian Guzman and Jay Canizaro followed with run-scoring singles for a 7-4 lead, chasing Rapp.

"I tried to make a perfect pitch every time I got a man on and left some pitches over the plate," Rapp said.

Hargrove brought in left-hander Chuck McElroy, who allowed a single and a walk before absorbing the big blow, a two-run double by David Ortiz which blew the game open at 10-4.

The Orioles rallied for two runs in the eighth, with Melvin Mora delivering a two-run double to close the gap to 10-6. Delino DeShields struck out and Belle popped out to end the threat.

Mora went 3-for-3 with two walks and is now 10-for-19 as an Oriole (.526) and has reached base safely in eight straight plate appearances. He said the way the Orioles initially treated him and his family has translated into his positive play.

"I feel comfortable here," Mora said. "I have come here to play. I didn't come here to joke around… . I want to stay here for a long time."

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