- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2001


BALTIMORE The Baltimore Orioles beat the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins with a ninth-inning rally yesterday, and all it took was a walk, two hit batters, Cal Ripken attempting to lay down his second sacrifice bunt of the game and Fernando Lunar's sacrifice fly to second base.
Just another ordinary day at Camden Yards.
Tied with the Twins in a game that was delayed 1 hour, 4 minutes by rain, the Orioles emerged with a 3-2 victory when Brady Anderson tagged from third on Lunar's deep popup to second baseman Luis Rivas.
"That's a very heads-up play," said Baltimore right-hander Mike Trombley, who earned the win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Sidney Ponson. "Just the way he caught it and the way Brady read it. I thought it was a terrific gamble."
Anderson came in to pinch run for David Segui, who opened the ninth by drawing a walk off Twins reliever Bob Wells (3-1). Wells then plunked Melvin Mora in the chest, the third minor injury suffered by Mora in the game, and was pulled in favor of left-hander Eddie Guardado.
With runners on first and second, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove gave Ripken the bunt sign, hoping the 40-year-old star would successfully lay down his second sacrifice of the game after going nearly two years without one. Two innings earlier, Ripken dropped down a bunt without realizing Hargrove had taken the play off. This time, he failed on two attempts, then grounded into a 6-4 forceout that moved Anderson to third.
Guardado's first pitch to Mike Kinkade struck the Orioles' left fielder on his left elbow, loading the bases for Lunar, Baltimore's little-used backup catcher, who fouled off two pitches before poking a flare to the right side.
Rivas, a late defensive substitution by Twins manager Tom Kelly, had to backtrack to catch the ball and appeared stunned when Anderson broke from third. With his momentum carrying him in the opposite direction, Rivas could only manage a weak toss to the plate that Anderson easily beat to score the winning run.
"It's kind of a split-second decision where you have to wait until the last moment whether he's going toward the outfield when he catches it," said Anderson, who went on his own. "Any ball that takes an infielder back through the outfield at all, it's almost impossible to throw me out."
Anderson actually stumbled briefly on the wet dirt, though it wasn't enough to prevent the 37-year-old from scoring.
"The only drawback there is the surface," Hargrove said. "But with Brady's speed and the fact that the infielder was backing up to make the catch, I think that's a great gamble."
The ninth-inning heroics capped off an unusual game that included Ripken's attempts to bunt and Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson getting saved by a batted ball that violently struck Minnesota's A.J. Pierzynski in the basepath.
Making his third start since coming off the disabled list with elbow tendinitis, Ponson was effective for 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only a solo homer by Jason Maxwell in the third before faltering in the seventh. Leading 2-1, Ponson gave up singles to Jacque Jones, Chad Allen and Pierzynski, the last of which tied the score and knocked the starter out of the game.
"I don't know if I'm back at 100 percent," said Ponson, who threw 113 pitches (76 strikes), "but I'm feeling much better and throwing the ball much better than I was before I went on the DL."
Trombley (2-1) entered and was greeted by a rocket off the bat of Matt Lawton that hit Pierzynski, running to second, in the left arm with full force. Pierzynski, who was visibly in pain but returned to catch the rest of the game, was ruled out for, interference, with Lawton awarded first base and Allen forced to remain on second. Had the ball gone cleanly into right field for a hit, Lawton might have scored and given Minnesota the lead.
Instead, the Twins were left with runners on first and second and two outs. Trombley got Guzman on a groundout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mora led off with a single to right, putting Ripken (.215 batting average) in the uncommon position of being asked to lay down a bunt. Having last successfully sacrificed on June 16, 1999, Ripken squared around but worked the count to 3-1, at which time Hargrove called off the play.
Ripken didn't realize the change he termed it a "little miscommunication of signs" and proceeded to drop a nice bunt to the pitcher that moved Mora to second. His teammates couldn't bring the runner home, but Ripken's bunt took more than a few people by surprise.
"I just try to do what the situation calls for," he said. "I got one of them down, tried to get the other one down. It's not something that I've done a lot."

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