- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2000


BALTIMORE Two ex-Orioles now playing for the Seattle Mariners last night handed their struggling former club its first two-game winning streak since April.

Arthur Rhodes was on the mound and Mark McLemore at second base for the Mariners in the ninth inning of a tie game when Orioles left fielder B.J. Surhoff hit a grounder to McLemore that looked like a potential double-play ball.

Instead, Surhoff's bad-hop bouncer went under McLemore's glove into right field and scored pinch-runner Delino DeShields from second base as the Orioles beat Seattle 4-3 before 37,262 at Camden Yards.

This was the second consecutive night the Orioles have won a game in the ninth inning. On Tuesday, Cal Ripken hit a two-run homer after the Mariners had tied the game in the top of the inning.

"I can't step back, if I step back and try to field the ball, there's a good chance I still blow it," McLemore said. "It short-hopped me, I had to come get it."

The inning started when Mariners reliever Kazuhiro Sasaki walked Ripken. Mariners manager Lou Piniella pulled Sasaki (1-3), who got the loss. Rhodes came in, and walked Will Clark and struck out Charles Johnson before Surhoff's bouncer ended the game.

"That's a tough hop, tough play to make," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's nice to get a break like that."

Orioles starter Sidney Ponson pitched eight solid innings allowing three runs on seven hits. Reliever Buddy Groom (3-2) got the win by striking out the side in the ninth.

The Mariners (23-20) nicked Orioles starter Ponson for a run in the first inning. With one out, McLemore slapped a single to left and stole second. With two outs, Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez drilled a double just inside the third-base line past Ripken for his 51st RBI.

Coming into last night's game, Martinez was only one RBI shy of taking over the American League RBI lead from Oakland's Jason Giambi. In his next at-bat, Martinez added RBI Nos. 52 and 53.

With nobody out and John Olerud on first in the fourth, Ponson hung a slider, and Martinez cranked it 346 feet just inside the foul pole in left. Martinez's 14th home run of the season gave the Mariners a 3-0 lead. But that might have been a wakeup call for the Orioles. Baltimore (19-25) tied the game in the bottom half.

Albert Belle opened the inning with a double into the right-field corner and scored on Ripken's single to center. When Clark walked, Ripken moved to second. Johnson smacked a single to left that scored Ripken and cut the deficit to 3-2. The slumping Surhoff tied it with a fielder's choice.

Last season Surhoff had a career year and was named to his first All-Star Game. He was named the most valuable Oriole after he set career highs in hits (207), home runs (28), RBI (107), runs (104) and total bases (331). But this season he was batting .237 before last night with only four home runs and 17 RBI. His lack of production forced Hargrove to move Surhoff out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order to No. 8, but there have been rumors that the New York Yankees are interested in trading for him.

"I don't think that should surprise any of us that the Yankees or anybody else has interest in some of our players," Hargrove said. "We've got some attractive players. I don't know if anything is going to happen and I don't know if we're even talking."

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