- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2000


NEW YORK Pat Rapp returned to the real world last night, and that meant bad things for the Baltimore Orioles.

After back-to-back dominant efforts in which he shut down two of the better lineups in the American League, Rapp looked every bit like the career journeyman he is as he was hit hard by the New York Yankees in a 12-6 loss before 40,031 at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles (36-46) staged a late comeback but found the hill too steep to climb as they lost for the second time in three days and fell to 13-33 on the road, the worst such mark in baseball. Coupled with a loss by Toronto, the Yankees (41-37) moved within half a game of first place in the American League East.

In his two previous starts, Rapp went a combined 14 innings against Seattle and Toronto, holding them to a combined four runs. In those games, he relied on his favorite pitch, a cut fastball, to keep hitters off balance. But without much movement, the cutter is just another average pitch, and that was the case last night.

"Today I just didn't get enough cut on my fastball," Rapp said. "It seemed like I tried to throw too hard, and it straightened out on me."

For Rapp, the number of walks he allows is usually an accurate gauge of the type of game he's pitching. In his last two starts, he walked a total of four, but last night he had walked three and hit a batter when he was pulled with one out in the sixth inning. He also had given up six hits, including two homers, and was charged with seven earned runs.

Rapp got in trouble in the second when he hit Jorge Posada to put two men on base, then fell behind Scott Brosius before serving up a three-run homer. He gave up a solo homer to Derek Jeter in the fifth, then allowed two hits and a walk all three runners scored before being replaced by Darren Holmes.

"I threw a fastball to Brosius, and it straightened out," Rapp said. "The one to Jeter kind of straightened out a little, too."

While Rapp put the Orioles in a hole, Holmes made it deeper, giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

The Orioles are the third team this season for the 34-year-old Holmes, and he's quickly showing why. In two games since being acquired last week, Holmes has gone 1 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs on seven hits and four walks.

At the time, it appeared all Holmes was doing was turning a bad loss into a blowout as the Orioles trailed 10-0 after six. But after getting just three hits off Andy Pettitte over the first six innings, the Orioles chased him in the seventh as they sent 11 men to the plate.

Will Clark got things started with the first of his two singles in the inning. Charles Johnson, who earlier in the day was snubbed for the All-Star team by Yankees manager Joe Torre, followed with a two-run homer. It was Johnson's 20th homer of the season, a career high.

Rookie Luis Matos followed with a stand-up triple his fourth hit in two starts after going 0-for-15 since getting called up from AA Bowie last month and scored on Mike Bordick's single.

Bordick, who also was overlooked by Torre for the All-Star team, reached base his first four plate appearances and now has 51 RBI, second on the team.

It took the Yankees four pitchers to escape the seventh and by the time Jeff Nelson retired Johnson, the Orioles had scored six runs. Nelson kept the Orioles scoreless in the eighth.

This club hasn't given up all year," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "They battled back tonight when they were out of it, which is good to see."

In the eighth, Mike Timlin continued to justify Hargrove's decision to strip him of the closer's duties, giving up two runs to end any hopes of a comeback. For those with the stomach to keep score, that's five runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings for a bullpen that entered the game with a 6.00 ERA.

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