- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001


ATLANTA This wasn't what Mike Hargrove had in mind when he told the Baltimore Orioles to continue playing aggressive baseball during a pregame meeting yesterday.Perhaps a little too aggressive or maybe too sleepy on the bases, the Orioles wasted an opportunity to beat Greg Maddux last night. Runners were picked off twice and caught in a rundown during a 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves that dropped Baltimore to a season-low eight games under .500.
"No, that wasn't what we talked about," Hargrove said of his afternoon pep talk to kick off the second half of the season. "We made three baserunning mistakes tonight, and we really have been pretty good [this season]. I think it was just a case of some of our young people trying to be too aggressive."
Chris Richard was the victim twice, getting caught between second and third on a fourth-inning grounder and getting picked off first base by Maddux in the sixth. Jerry Hairston ended the game in unceremonious fashion by getting picked off by closer Steve Karsay with two out in the ninth.
That put the finishing touches on a forgettable day for Hairston, who was benched after showing up late for the team's afternoon workout. When he finally worked his way into the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth, he got caught leaning toward second.
"I guess I was late all day today," Hairston said. "But if this is the worst day of my career, then I'll have a pretty good career."
The Orioles had put themselves in position for what had all the makings of a momentum-swinging victory. They tagged Maddux for five runs, the final two coming on rookie Jay Gibbons' pinch-hit home run in the seventh, his 10th in his last 20 games.
What they didn't expect was to be beaten by a hot-hitting rookie on the opposing team. Mark DeRosa, batting .426 in his first major league season, singled home the winning run off Chad Paronto with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After left-hander B.J. Ryan (2-4) gave up a two-out single to Brian Jordan, Paronto came in and watched as Jordan stole second and took third when catcher Fernando Lunar's throw skipped into the outfield. After walking Javy Lopez, Paronto threw what he thought was a good sinker to DeRosa, who still managed to squeeze a grounder through the left-side hole to score Jordan.
"Anybody who knows anything about baseball knows you'd rather face Mark DeRosa than Javy Lopez even though DeRosa's swinging a hot bat right now," Paronto said. "He did exactly what we wanted. I wanted to get a ground ball, and that's what he did. It just managed to find a hole."
Gibbons, a 24-year-old left-handed hitter who never played above Class AA before this season, drilled Maddux's 1-0 pitch the opposite way over the left-field fence for a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the seventh. Gibbons' 12th home run of the season and the Orioles' first pinch-hit homer since Jeff Conine went deep June 29, 2000, in Boston left the crowd of 44,465 at Turner Field in silence.
"I thought he was maybe going to stay away from me," Gibbons said. "Then he came in, and fortunately I put some good wood on it."
Admittedly, Maddux (11-5) was not at his best. He was tagged for two runs in the first and another in the fourth as Baltimore kept itself in the game even though starter Sidney Ponson gave up four home runs.
Ex-Orioles outfielder B.J. Surhoff sent a 1-2 pitch off the right-field foul pole in the first inning. After DeRosa doubled in a run in the second, Andrew Jones blasted a solo shot over the left-field fence to put Atlanta up 3-2 in the third. Then Chipper Jones and Ken Caminiti hammered back-to-back pitches from Ponson to lead off the sixth and give Maddux what appeared to be a comfortable lead.
Coming off his shortest start of the season when a bloody blister forced him from the game after two innings, Ponson was not wild, walking just one. His pitches were up over the plate, however, and the Braves made him pay for it with the four home runs.
"I felt like I lost the game, not B.J.," Ponson said. "I should have just kept us in the game, but being dumb enough to throw the first pitch right down the middle doesn't help either."
Brian Roberts and Cal Ripken extended their hitting streaks last night. Roberts tied the Orioles' rookie record with a 15-game streak, and Ripken hit safely in his 13th straight game.

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