- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001


ARLINGTON, Texas Stuck in their worst funk of the season and heading into a brutal portion of their schedule that will test both their physical and mental endurance, the Baltimore Orioles are finding ways to torture themselves seemingly every day.
Last night, they may have sunk to a new low.
In a game that spanned the complete gamut of highs and lows, the Orioles broke out to an early four-run lead, watched it wither away in the stifling Texas heat, rallied to regain control behind Cal Ripken's bat and then gave it all away on a botched defensive play, something that has become so prevalent in recent days.
The end result was a thoroughly disappointing 8-7 loss to the Texas Rangers before 35,517 at the Ballpark in Arlington, the kind of loss that will make tonight's doubleheader part of the makeup for last week's train derailment in Baltimore all the more painful to contemplate.
The Orioles led 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth when the last-place Rangers stormed back thanks to Mike Kinkade's two-out error in left field.
Relievers B.J. Ryan and Mike Trombley retired the first two batters in the inning before Ruben Sierra singled up the middle to keep Texas' hopes alive. Gabe Kapler then hit a deep fly ball to left field that Kinkade inserted in place of Jay Gibbons that inning misplayed and watched glance off the tip of his glove. The two-base error allowed Sierra to score the tying run and kept the inning alive for pinch-hitter Randy Velarde. Velarde then crushed a 2-0 pitch from Trombley (2-3) inside third base for another double, giving the Rangers the lead for good.
Baltimore threatened in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with two outs against closer Jeff Zimmerman. But pinch-hitter Brady Anderson struck out to end the game.
After squandering their early lead, the Orioles who have lost 15 of their last 17 games came back in the top of the eighth when Cal Ripken battled through an 11-pitch at-bat against left-hander Mike Venafro (3-2) to single through the left-side hole and bring home the tying run. Tony Batista then gave Baltimore the lead with a sacrifice fly to left.
It didn't last long, though. The Rangers' eighth-inning heroics spoiled what was turning into a sorely needed victory for the Orioles, who now face the daunting prospect of a twi-night doubleheader with two pitchers making their first starts of the season.
Left-hander John Parrish, who made an appearance in the Baltimore bullpen earlier this year, was expected to be recalled from Class AAA Rochester last night to start today's 6:05 p.m. game against Rangers rookie Justin Duchschrerer. Right-handed reliever Calvin Maduro, who started two games last season, will pitch the nightcap against Doug Davis.
For a team mired in a prolonged offensive slump, the Orioles sure looked potent at the plate last night. They battered Texas ace Rick Helling for five runs in the first four innings.
Gibbons started things off with a two-run homer to left field in the top of the second, the rookie outfielder's 15th of the season. His third-inning double, which followed an RBI single by Jeff Conine, brought another run home and put the Orioles up 4-1.
When Tony Batista doubled and scored on Brian Roberts' single to left-center in the fourth, Baltimore had itself a seemingly comfortable four-run lead. Then the Rangers figured Sidney Ponson out.
A native of Aruba, Ponson boasted before the game that the triple-digit heat in Texas posed no problem. And for five outstanding innings, he went out and backed that statement up, allowing just one run to score.
But the 24-year-old right-hander began to wilt in the sixth, though he received little assistance from his defense. After Frank Catalanotto walked, Mike Lamb sent a fly ball over the head Gibbons, who took a step in before retreating too late. Lamb's double put runners on second and third with Alex Rodriguez coming to the plate.
The $252 million man crushed Ponson's 0-2 pitch back up the middle for a two-run single, then stole second. A visibly animated Ponson then walked Rafael Palmeiro on four pitches but appeared to get out of the inning when Ivan Rodriguez grounded to shortstop for what should have been an easy double play. Second baseman Jerry Hairston's throw, however, skipped past Conine and allowed Alex Rodriguez to score the Rangers' fourth run of the game.
One inning later, it all came crashing down. Back-to-back doubles by Ricky Ledee and Michael Young tied the game 5-5. Lamb then gave Texas the lead, singling to right with two outs to score Young.

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