- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2001


BALTIMORE Since spring training, the Baltimore Orioles have marketed themselves as a young, energetic team a claim that didn't always ring true, given the numerous veterans still on the roster.

It took a shoulder injury to shortstop Mike Bordick and the release of catcher Greg Myers earlier in the day, but last night the Orioles were finally as good as advertised.

Fielding one of its youngest lineups of the season with 24-year-old Josh Towers on the mound, three infielders under 25 directly behind him and a pair of 23-year-old relievers Baltimore salvaged one victory in three tries against the New York Mets by winning 5-2 at Camden Yards.

Towers pitched seven strong innings, allowing only a pair of solo home runs, and won for the third time in four starts. Rookie Brian Roberts, called up to replace Bordick at shortstop, had his first major league hit, scored a run and played solid defense. Second baseman Jerry Hairston, 25, teamed with 24-year-old first baseman Jay Gibbons to break a 2-2 tie in the seventh. And right fielder Chris Richard, who turned 27 last week, added a monstrous two-run homer in the eighth inning.

After losing a 2-0 lead on homers by Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile, the Orioles regained the lead in the seventh. Gibbons, making his fourth start at first base, doubled to left field off Steve Trachsel (1-8) and moved to third on Brook Fordyce's groundout. Hairston then roped a 2-2 pitch back up the middle for a run-scoring single.

With Towers and 23-year-old relievers Ryan Kohlmeier and John Parrish, plus veterans Mike Trombley and Buddy Groom, checking the Mets, Baltimore didn't need much offense.

Towers (4-1, 2.09 ERA) gave up three hits and one walk over five innings while extending his scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings. But he left a fastball up over the plate for Piazza in the sixth, and the All-Star catcher launched it off the roof of the New York bullpen, 427 feet from home plate. Zeile led off the seventh by mashing Towers' 2-0 fastball just over leaping Brady Anderson's glove to make 2-2.

But after Hairston gave the Orioles the lead and Richard padded it with a two-run homer in the eighth off Dennis Cook, Kohlmeier (one inning) and Parrish, Trombley and Groom (one-third of an inning each, with Groom getting his third save) shut the door.

"The bottom line is all of us can play the game and all of us are here for a reason," said Towers, who pitched only four called balls in the first three innings. "It's what they know we can do and what we know we can do."

Roberts picked up his hit with a liner over the second baseman's head in the bottom of the fourth. He received a standing ovation from many in the crowd of 37,853, then wowed everyone by speeding around from first to third on David Segui's single to right field. He scored on Jeff Conine's single.

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