- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2001


BALTIMORE Seemingly cruising toward an easy victory over the New York Mets last night, the Baltimore Orioles in the span of about an hour lost their starting pitcher, their starting shortstop and the game.

Up by six runs after four innings, the Orioles gave up seven runs in the final four innings of a crushing 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Mets in a 3-hour, 57-minute marathon before 34,881 stunned fans at Camden Yards.

Mike Trombley, Baltimore's most reliable reliever most of the season, blew his second save opportunity in a week, allowing New York to tie the game with three runs in the ninth. Buddy Groom (1-2) then took the loss in the 10th when Tsuyoshi Shinjo singled in Mike Piazza from third with the winning run.

"It was just one of those crazy nights," said Trombley, who suffered his first blown save last week at Yankee Stadium. "The whole thing is hard to swallow. But you've got to learn to live with it."

It was the first time Baltimore lost a game it led after eight innings this season, a stretch of 25 straight such wins. It also came at a potentially bigger cost to the Orioles.

Sidney Ponson, who didn't have his best stuff but managed to pitch effectively, left in the seventh with a stiff forearm. Mike Bordick, one of the Orioles' hottest hitters in recent days, left in the ninth with a shoulder injury after getting upended by Lenny Harris' hard slide.

"He landed on the back of his shoulder and neck," manager Mike Hargrove said of Bordick, who had precautionary X-rays taken, the results of which were not immediately known. "I don't know if it's a stinger, but I've got a feeling that's what it is. I'm sure we'll know more [today]."

Trombley, seeking his fifth save, walked two batters and gave up an infield single to Todd Zeile that loaded the bases for New York with one out in the ninth. Hargrove allowed the right-handed Trombley to pitch to left-handed pinch-hitter Mark Johnson, who got behind 0-2 but worked the count even before blooping a base hit over Bordick's head, bringing in two runs.

Harris then found the hole between first and second for an infield hit, allowing the tying run to score.

As if things couldn't get any worse, Rey Ordonez followed with a comebacker to Trombley, who threw to Bordick for the force out. Bordick got off a late throw to first but was bowled over by Harris and appeared to land on his right shoulder. After a lengthy huddle with several members of the Baltimore coaching and training staff, Bordick got up and walked into the clubhouse.

"It wasn't so much the slide as much as Bordy landing on his shoulder," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "You hope it's not as bad as it looked, but it looked pretty bad."

Ponson's injury appears to be less severe than Bordick's, though given the fact he already has been on the disabled list with an inflamed elbow, the Orioles privately may be more concerned about Ponson's condition than they let on last night.

Given the luxury of working through a less-than-perfect night without much concern because New York starter Glendon Rusch struggled mightily, Ponson only gave up one run on six hits. Still, he wasn't at his finest and left the game in the seventh inning with what the team originally described as a "slight case of elbow stiffness" but later reclassified as a stiff forearm.

After Timo Perez doubled to lead off the seventh and Edgardo Alfonzo followed with a fly out, Ponson motioned to the Orioles' dugout. Pitching coach Mark Wiley and trainer Richie Bancells trotted out to the mound, and after a brief conference Ponson walked off the field alongside Bancells as B.J. Ryan entered from the bullpen.

"It's nothing with my elbow, just my forearm," said Ponson, whose velocity has been down several mph since his previous injury in April. "I'll definitely be there on Monday [his next scheduled start]."

Ponson was still in line to win the game, though, thanks to the Orioles' early offensive barrage. Baltimore knocked Rusch senseless for 3 1/3 innings before forcing the left-hander into submission, racking up at least one run and two hits an inning. Rusch entered the game with an 0-4 record and 9.77 ERA in six previous starts against the Orioles.

After Rusch's rough outing, relievers Dicky Gonzalez, John Franco (3-1) and Armando Benitez (10 saves) combined to shut Baltimore out over six innings to help bring the Mets back and deal the Orioles a devastating loss.

"The last three innings were a little tough to take," Hargrove said, "but if you play this game long enough, you'll see things happen that make you shake your head and wonder."

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