- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2002

PHILADELPHIA Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, a notoriously downtrodden bunch, haven't had much reason to turn their collective frown upside down this season. So even after promising young right-hander Brandon Duckworth mowed down the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings last night, the 20,634 spectators at Veterans Stadium seemed to be sitting on edge and fearing the worst despite their team's three-run lead.
They got a pretty good scare when Jay Gibbons crushed a three-run homer for Baltimore in the eighth inning but wound up going home happy after Scott Rolen singled in the winning run with two out in the bottom of the 10th to give the Phillies a 4-3 victory.
Buddy Groom, who escaped a jam in the ninth, retired the first two batters in the 10th before giving up singles to Pat Burrell and Doug Glanville. Rolen, who has developed a serious love-hate relationship with the city of Philadelphia and likely is on the verge of being traded, singled to right-center on a 2-2 fastball to score Burrell with the winning run. Rolen also homered earlier off reliever Chris Brock.
"The [pitch] to Rolen was just up over the plate a little bit," said Groom (2-2). "He got jammed, but it was up at the level where you can get it over the infield. He just did his job."
The Phillies' extra-inning rally spoiled what had the makings of a big comeback for the Orioles, who struggled all night against Duckworth but stormed back to tie on Gibbons' homer.
Duckworth cruised through his first seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks and keeping the Orioles off balance all night. But the second-year man faltered in the eighth, walking Brian Roberts and giving up a single to Melvin Mora to start the inning, bringing lefty Dan Plesac from the bullpen.
Plesac got Chris Singleton to ground into a forceout, but his 1-1 pitch to Gibbons was out over the plate, and the Baltimore cleanup hitter belted it to right field for a game-tying, three-run homer. Gibbons' 11th home run of the season was all the more shocking given that he carried a .235 average, no homers and two RBI against left-handed pitchers into last night's game.
The Orioles will need more from their second-year slugger now that first baseman Jeff Conine has been placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Gibbons figures to be Baltimore's regular cleanup hitter and starting first baseman in Conine's absence.
"I don't think it's added pressure," Gibbons said, "but guys like me and Tony [Batista] need to step it up a little bit because we're losing a big bat in the middle. They're going to have to count on us to drive in a lot more runs."
Roberts, leading off for the second straight night, was the only player with consistent success against Duckworth. The Orioles' second baseman, who has been flip-flopped with No.2 hitter Mora, was 2-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base against the Phillies' starter. He nearly reached base for the fifth straight time in the 10th, but Rolen made a diving stop of a line drive to his left.
"Brian Roberts had a tremendous game offensively," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He did what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do."
The Phillies didn't fare much better against Baltimore starter Scott Erickson, but they took advantage of Roberts' defensive gaffe and the pitcher's brief bout of wildness to score two early runs and extend Erickson's streak of winless starts to nine.
Rollins led off the bottom of the first by skipping a high hopper up the middle for what looked like an easy hit. Roberts, though, went way to his right to corral the ball, then fired it into the third row behind first base. Rollins trotted to second, giving Philadelphia a good scoring opportunity right off the bat.
Erickson compounded matters by throwing a fastball behind No.2 hitter Marlon Anderson that went to the backstop. Erickson's third wild pitch of the season allowed Rollins to advance to third and ultimately score on Anderson's groundout.
The veteran right-hander appeared to be cruising along in the fourth after striking out Bobby Abreu and getting ahead of cleanup hitter Burrell 0-2. But Erickson lost Burrell on a walk, then served up a run-scoring double down the left-field line to Jeremy Giambi that made it 2-0.
Erickson was lifted for a pinch hitter after six innings, having allowed two runs (one earned) and three hits. Erickson threw only 88 pitches and was plenty fresh to go out for the seventh, but with the Orioles down two runs and playing in a National League park, Hargrove had no choice but hit for his pitcher.
"If it's an American League game, he's still pitching," Hargrove said.

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