- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

BALTIMORE Throughout their recent hot streak (12 victories in 16 games), it was as though nothing could go wrong for the Baltimore Orioles.
Last night the evil baseball gods made up for lost time.
Thanks to a bad hop and a controversial call, the Cleveland Indians pulled away to a 9-4 win over the Orioles, halting for now Baltimore's sudden turnaround from the depths of the American League East to the verge of contention.
The Orioles hadn't experienced much bad karma during their two-week rise from last place to third. But when Chris Singleton was called out on an appeal at third base in the fifth inning last night, stripping Baltimore of its momentary 5-4 lead, the crowd of 24,976 at Camden Yards had to get the feeling things weren't going to go the Orioles' way this time.
And when Jolbert Cabrera's routine two-hopper to shortstop in the eighth hit the edge of the infield grass and ricocheted off shortstop Mike Bordick's glove, scoring ex-Oriole Brady Anderson with the eventual game-winning run, there was no doubt that someone wasn't smiling down on Baltimore.
The craziness occurred in the fifth inning, just as the Orioles were rallying from an early 4-0 deficit.
Jay Gibbons started the comeback with a solo homer in the fourth, his eighth of the season but first since April 20. Baltimore loaded the bases in unusual fashion in the fifth on Bordick's double off the left-field wall and a pair of infield singles that failed to advance runners.
Singleton then roped a line drive to right field, and by the time Matt Lawton got the ball back to the infield, three runs had scored and Singleton was standing on third base with his biggest hit of the season.
He didn't hang around the base long. When Jeff Conine followed with a shallow fly to right field, Singleton took off and narrowly beat Lawton's throw to the plate. The crowd rejoiced and Singleton retreated to the dugout, thinking he had just given the Orioles a 5-4 lead.
"There was never a question," Singleton said. "I was down there putting my bat and helmet away, and to my surprise "
To nearly everyone's surprise, Indians starter Ryan Drese made an appeal throw to third base, checking to see if Singleton had left too soon. When umpire Paul Emmel ruled Singleton out, wiping the run off the scoreboard, the Orioles' dugout was left in pure shock.
"I watched Lawton catch the ball," said manager Mike Hargrove, who sprinted onto the field and joined third-base coach Tom Trebelhorn in a heated argument with Emmel. "I looked to third base, and it looked to me like Singleton hadn't left yet."
Umpires rarely call a runner out on appeal unless they are absolutely positive he left too soon. That was Hargrove's and Trebelhorn's primary complaint: How could Emmel be 100 percent sure Singleton had left before Lawton caught the ball?
"[Emmel] was so sure that he left early, I bought the swampland," Trebelhorn said. "He convinced me I didn't see it right."
Split-screen television replays appeared to show that Singleton did not leave too soon.
"You've got to be 100 percent sure," Singleton said. "And I'm sure in his mind he thinks he was."
Three innings later, the Indians used some more magic to take the lead for good. Anderson, playing his first game at Camden Yards in a visiting uniform, doubled down the right-field line off reliever Buddy Groom. Cabrera then bounced a grounder toward Bordick that struck in front of the lip between the grass and dirt. The ball skipped high into the air, glanced off Bordick's glove and trailed into the outfield as Anderson raced around to score.
"It just hit something in the grass," Bordick said. "Sometimes you're going to have those nights. Hopefully, the ball bounces differently tomorrow."
Before the Orioles could lament their fate too much, Russell Branyan launched a two-run homer to right field off Groom (1-1) to make it 7-4. Lawton added another two-run shot in the ninth off Travis Driskill to seal Cleveland's victory.
Making perhaps his last start in the Orioles' rotation, Sean Douglass was outstanding the first time through the Cleveland lineup but came undone the next time around. He allowed four runs in the fourth inning, three on a homer by Jim Thome.
The 23-year-old right-hander did make a heads-up play in the fifth when he saw Omar Vizquel attempting to steal home plate. Douglass stepped off the rubber and fired to catcher Izzy Molina to get Vizquel.
With three off days coming up, the Orioles will skip Douglass' next turn in the rotation, and by the time his spot comes up again, injured right-hander Jason Johnson may be ready to come off the disabled list.


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