- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

NEW YORK There were far more significant events taking place at Yankee Stadium last night, but there was still a game to be played. And the Baltimore Orioles did their best to bring a sense of normalcy to an otherwise abnormal day they lost yet again.
Despite rallying to tie the game on a three-run homer by Jay Gibbons, the Orioles fell to the New York Yankees 5-4 in 11 innings on the first anniversary of last September's terrorist attacks. It was Baltimore's 17th loss in its last 18 games.
Nick Johnson singled up the middle off B.J. Ryan in the bottom of the 11th, scoring Jorge Posada from third with the winning run. Ryan, who entered with one runner on, walked Raul Mondesi and threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third.
The Yankees' extra-inning rally overshadowed a tumultuous ninth inning that saw both third baseman Robin Ventura and manager Joe Torre ejected by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez for arguing a called third strike.
The loss spoiled a rather impressive pitching performance by Orioles rookie right-hander John Stephens, who couldn't have picked a tougher night to make his Yankee Stadium debut. Regular-season games at the House That Ruth Built are daunting enough for first-timers without having the specter of a nationally televised game on a historic evening attached to it.
But after a shaky start, which really hinged on only two bad pitches, Stephens calmed his nerves and pitched a highly effective game against the Bronx Bombers.
The soft-tossing Australian allowed a solo homer to Ventura in the second, then a mammoth, three-run blast to Alfonso Soriano in the third that had the assembled masses beckoning for a curtain call from their MVP candidate.
Much to the delight of the crowd, Soriano complied, but the good vibes were short-lived. Stephens responded by retiring 15 of the next 18 batters, buying some time for his teammates to rally.
Which they did with authority. After being held to one hit by New York starter Orlando Hernandez through five innings, the Orioles strung together three straight hits to open the sixth, with Jerry Hairston's single scoring Mike Bordick with Baltimore's first run.
Hernandez retired the next two batters and had Gibbons down 1-2 with the crowd on its feet, but he left his next pitch over the plate and Gibbons belted it to right field for a game-tying home run.
Notes The Orioles activated outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. off the 15-day disabled list before the game. Matthews, who had been out since Aug.24 with right wrist tendinitis, was available only for pinch-running duties. Baltimore signed free agent catcher Raul Casanova, who was released by the Milwaukee Brewers last week, to back up Geronimo Gil and Brook Fordyce. To make room for Casanova on the 40-man roster, the Orioles outrighted right-hander Josh Towers to ClassAAA Rochester after he first cleared waivers. Minor-league left-hander Erik Bedard, rated the organization's top prospect earlier this year, had elbow ligament replacement surgery Tuesday. Bedard will miss most or all of next season.


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