- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001


BALTIMORE Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles can take some solace in knowing that they won't have to see the New York Yankees again until late September. There weren't too many other silver linings on the dark clouds hovering over Camden Yards this week.
In the 13th installment of their 19-game season series, the Orioles lost yet again to their American League East rivals last night, this time in a 6-3 defeat made possible by a 41-minute rain delay, an ill-advised throw to first and a questionable call on a bloop fly ball.
In the end, the first-place Yankees left town with a three-game sweep and an 11-2 record against Baltimore this year, with the two teams due to meet six more times in the final two weeks of the season. Overall, the four-time World Series champions have won eight in a row.
Orioles right-hander Josh Towers, the American League Rookie of the Month for June, waited out the rain delay in the top of the first, then gave up a two-run homer to Bernie Williams shortly after play resumed en route to only his second loss as a starter.
The Yankees added four more late runs to pad their lead, but the Orioles had a few chances of their own to make a comeback when the game was still within reach.
Stifled for six innings by Yankees rookie left-hander Ted Lilly (3-1), with their only run coming on Jeff Conine's fourth-inning sacrifice fly, the Orioles threatened in the seventh against reliever Jay Witasick.
With David Segui on first and two out, Witasick grazed Melvin Mora's jersey with a pitch, bringing Cal Ripken to the plate. After working the count to 1-1, Ripken hit a high-hopper to the right of shortstop Derek Jeter that turned into a tough play when Segui paused on the basepath to block Jeter's view. By the time the All-Star shortstop recovered and threw to first, the 40-year-old Ripken (who had three hits for the second time in his last three games and extended his hitting streak to 10 games) had beaten it out.
With the bases loaded, Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove was forced to decide between leaving in Mike Kinkade (making his first start since a bruised thumb kept him out more than a week) against the right-handed Witasick or turning to left-handed pinch-hitter Jay Gibbons (one of the team's hottest hitters) or Chris Richard presumably to face left-hander Mike Stanton. Hargrove stuck with Kinkade, who fouled off two pitches, then flailed unsuccessfully at a breaking ball to end the rally.
The Orioles again threatened in the eighth, putting two runners on with two outs, but reliever Mark Wohlers got Conine to bounce out to third. Baltimore finally broke through for two runs in the ninth when Ripken singled home Tony Batista and Mora. But Mariano Rivera retired Richard and Gibbons who ultimately got their chances to pinch-hit and Jerry Hairston to record his 28th save.
Towers (6-3) looked fine on the two pitches he threw to Chuck Knoblauch to open the game the Yankees leadoff hitter tapped a soft popup back to the mound for the first out. Forty-one minutes later, once the heavens had finally closed up, Towers stepped back to the mound and looked like a different man.
Jeter clubbed the second pitch he saw down the right-field line for a stand-up double. Williams then did Jeter one better, sending a 1-1 fastball 413 feet over the right-center field wall to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
New York continued to hit the ball hard off Towers through much of the night, but the rookie right-hander managed to make several key pitches to get out of jams. He appeared to have done it again in the seventh, only to watch as an ill-advised throw by shortstop Brian Roberts and a controversial call on a blooper to right field allowed the Yankees to score another run.
New York had runners on first and third with one out Shane Spencer was on third because Roberts fired a ball over first base after making a diving stop of a groundball in the hole when Knoblauch lifted a lazy fly ball to shallow right field. Conine came charging in and caught the ball, snow cone style, on the run. The ball was in his possession as he took four steps, then fell to the ground, knocking the ball loose.
First base umpire C.B. Bucknor called it a clean hit, saying Conine never had possession of the ball. Though Hairston picked up the ball and threw to Roberts for a forceout at second base, Spencer scored easily from third, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
New York made it 4-1 an inning later when Tino Martinez smacked a solo homer to right off B.J. Ryan, then extended the lead to five runs in the ninth on a two-run single by Jeter.

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