- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

PHILADELPHIA With baseball's All-Star Game fast approaching, it has become fashionable to try to guess who will represent the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee. With no clear-cut star on the team, it's not so easy a task.
In a strange way, though, the Orioles' lack of a bona fide star player may have shaped this team's personality. Unable to rely on one big name night in and night out, the Orioles have needed something from each of their 25 players at one point or another this season. And while no one's going to confuse this bunch for a contender, Baltimore's no-name team has played good, solid baseball a majority of the season.
They were at it again yesterday in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Thanks to the clutch performances of a 30-year-old rookie pitcher, a 30-year-old backup first baseman and a second-year middle reliever, the Orioles came away with a three-game interleague series victory over their supposedly "geographic" rivals.
Playing without cleanup hitter Jeff Conine (now on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring) and with a less-than-imposing lineup, Baltimore won despite finishing with just five hits.
"The number of runs we score for the number of hits we get is really remarkable," said Ryan McGuire, who filled in at first base and came away with his first hit of the season the eventual game-winner. "That's just timely hitting and executing and moving runners, stealing bases. We don't have a lot of power like the Yankees. We can't really afford to rely on that. These guys just play very, very good baseball."
McGuire, whose seventh-inning RBI single off Phillies starter Terry Adams put the Orioles up 3-1, was in the starting lineup for only the second time this year. His hit snapped a season-long 0-for-9 slump.
"You sit there and watch the guys go out and fight every night, and you want to help," McGuire said. "It's like, 'I'm here. I want to do something to help us win.' It was nice to get an opportunity to start and then to do something to help us win the game."
McGuire wasn't the only unheralded player helping lead the Orioles to victory yesterday. Travis Driskill, the 30-year-old rookie making his fifth start, pitched well once again and improved to 4-0.
Driskill has made it through at least six innings in each of his starts and has held the opposition to three runs or less four times.
"Every time he's gotten the ball except for his first relief appearance he's kept us in the ballgame and has given us a chance to win," manager Mike Hargrove said.
Driskill also aided his cause by drawing a walk in his first major-league at-bat and scoring the Orioles' first run, though it took him plenty of time to make it around the bases. Despite a huge lead off first base, the husky pitcher was nearly thrown out at the plate on Brian Roberts' third-inning double to left-center.
"I just kept running and running," Driskill said. "It seemed like it took forever."
The right-hander looked far more comfortable on the pitcher's mound, where he once again outcrafted the opposition, allowing only Pat Burrell's solo homer in the fourth before being lifted with one on and one out in the seventh.
The Orioles eventually got out of the inning and left Driskill in line for the win but not before sweating through left-hander B.J. Ryan's near-disastrous relief appearance. Ryan got the first batter he faced to ground out, then proceeded to issue three straight walks, leaving Baltimore's lead at one run with the bases loaded and Hargrove wanting to pull his hair out.
Ryan, who was the only available left-hander in the bullpen after Buddy Groom pitched two innings Saturday night, has retired just seven of the last 19 batters he has faced and has 15 walks in 21⅓ innings this season.
"B.J. is better than that," Hargrove said. "And he needs to be better than that."
Hargrove was forced to summon Willis Roberts to face Burrell with the bases loaded, and the erratic setup man came through by inducing an inning-ending groundout from the Philadelphia cleanup hitter.
Perhaps more important, Roberts cruised through the eighth inning, retiring the side on six pitches and paving the way for rookie closer Jorge Julio to earn his 13th save with a scoreless ninth.
"Willis came in at a time we really needed somebody to step up," Hargrove said. "I thought it was doubly impressive how he went through the eighth inning."
Note A blister on right-hander Rodrigo Lopez's pitching hand will force Hargrove to shuffle his starting rotation for this week's series at Arizona. Jason Johnson and Sidney Ponson will each move up a day to face the Diamondbacks' Brian Anderson and Curt Schilling. Lopez will be pushed back to Thursday's finale, in which he will go up against four-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson.


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