- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2003

BALTIMORE — A few more yawns than usual were spotted in the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles clubhouses yesterday afternoon at Camden Yards.

“Last night was definitely tiring, and I think we’re all still feeling it,” Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons said. “[It was] not the greatest time to have a-six hour game.”

The Orioles, in the midst of playing 19 straight days and having flown into town early Friday morning from Toronto, lost to the Phillies 4-2 in a 17-inning game that lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes.

The final out — the 102nd of the game — was made at 12:49a.m. yesterday morning.

At that point, the scattered few of the 46,405 fans who remained to the end were mostly red-clad Phillies supporters who had made the drive south on I-95 to be a part of a 20th anniversary weekend observance of the 1983 World Series between these two teams (The Orioles won in five games.)

“I heard a lot of cheers, so it felt good to reward those that stuck around,” said the Phillies’ Jason Michaels, who entered the game in the 10th inning and won it in the 17th when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Omar Daal 360 feet over the left-field fence for a three-run homer. The game ended eight minutes short of tying the Orioles record for the longest game time-wise (1998) and marked the most innings they had played since another 17-inning affair on Sept.27, 1974.

Gibbons personally saved at least two runs with spectacular running catches in right field, one of Mike Lieberthal’s liner down the line in the eighth inning that would have scored Bobby Abreu from second.

“Maybe I should have dropped one since we lost anyway,” Gibbons said jokingly.

Baltimore scored in the first inning on B.J. Surhoff’s RBI double to left field that bounced off Ricky Ledee’s glove as he tried to make a running grab at the warning track. Philadelphia tied it in the third on Lieberthal’s RBI groundout before Surhoff snuffed the rally by robbing Ledee of a two-run homer with a leaping catch against the left-center field fence.

From there, the offense took a back seat. Baltimore starter Jason Johnson went eight innings, his longest outing of the season, before giving way to six relievers.

“We need Pat to throw nine innings,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said of last night’s starter, Pat Hentgen. “Quick, and only nine.”

While Baltimore’s bullpen was impressive, Philadelphia’s was even more so. Starter Kevin Duckworth was taken out after the first inning with a bruised forearm after being hit by Gibbons’ line drive.

That left the next 16 innings up to the Phillies bullpen, and it used all seven available relievers to close out the win.

“That’s about as good as it gets right there,” said winner Dan Plesac, who threw two scoreless innings.

Plesac said he didn’t go to bed until 4:30a.m. and was greeted by enthusiastic Phillies fans in his hotel lobby when he finally woke up in the afternoon.

“There was a buzz in the lobby when I went down there,” Plesac said. “It was great. We’re all tired, but that’s a game you really enjoy when you win. When you lose a game like that, it’s a tough one to swallow. Because you battle and battle and you’re fighting and scratching, and you never get the big hit you need.”

Hargrove was one of the many faces sporting yawns yesterday, but he was ready to turn the page after the marathon loss.

“That’s part of this business,” he said. “You’ve got to let go of what happened yesterday and look to today.”

Even when one game ends on the same day another begins.

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