- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

NEW YORK The New York Yankees sent a toothless pitcher to the mound last night. The Baltimore Orioles sent a punchless squad to face him. And by game's end, it was the Orioles who had a bitter taste in their mouths.
David Wells, making his first appearance since having two teeth knocked out in an early-morning brawl, earned his 17th victory as the Orioles dropped their fourth consecutive game to the Yankees, this one by 7-3. Baltimore departed for Boston late last night a beaten, battered and bruised ballclub that has lost 18 of its last 19 games and has seen a .500 record turn into a 64-81 disaster.
Manager Mike Hargrove noted yesterday that his troops have played competitive baseball during this horrid stretch and have shown no sign of giving up. Maybe so, but their sloppy play in the field last night turned what should have been an effective pitching performance by Sean Douglass into a deceivingly poor final line.
The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning on a single, a hit batter (Jason Giambi, who eventually left the game with a bruised right wrist) and an intentional walk. Douglass got Rondell White to hit a fly ball to the right-center gap, but center fielder Melvin Mora glanced over at right fielder Luis Matos at the last moment and gave up on the play. The ball fell in front of Mora as two runners scored.
"It was my fault," the disconsolate Mora said. "I don't know what I was thinking. I was on the moon."
Douglass would have gotten out of the inning unscathed had Mora made the catch. Instead, rookie first baseman Nick Johnson tagged an 0-2 breaking ball from Douglass (0-3) for a three-run homer to cap a five-run inning.
"After [the Mora play], it was just one bad pitch and they capitalized on it," Douglass said. "I've just got to stay away from the big innings."
Said Hargrove: "They scored five runs after we misplayed a fly ball in the first inning. If that hadn't happened, it might have been a 2-2 game going into the ninth inning."
Douglass looked strong after that, shutting the Yankees out over his next five innings. The Baltimore rookie failed to leave on a high note, though, because three singles, an error by first-time left fielder Jose Leon and a wild pitch by reliever Travis Driskill turned a reasonably close game into a New York blowout in the eighth inning.
Even had the Orioles kept things close, Wells didn't look like he was going to give in. Having spent all week the butt of jokes concerning his 5:50a.m. diner incident with a crazed fan and a butter knife, Wells (17-7) dominated for eight innings, allowing only solo homers to Mora and Jeff Conine. Sterling Hitchcock surrendered a solo shot by Leon in the ninth.
Notes Willis Roberts and Melvin Mora both met with Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy to formally appeal suspensions stemming from a July28 brawl in Boston. Roberts (who was suspended seven games) and Mora (four games) expect to hear DuPuy's decision today. Reliever Yorkis Perez had an emergency appendectomy early yesterday morning and will be out the rest of the season.
Cal Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game currently leads fan voting in MLB's Memorable Moments competition. Voting continues through Oct.7. Mike Bordick tied Ripken's American League record last night for consecutive errorless games by a shortstop at 95.

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