- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2003

BALTIMORE — The bullpen has been a place where potential victories go to die for the Baltimore Orioles. But yesterday at Camden Yards, the beleaguered relievers redeemed themselves somewhat.

Four relievers saved the day after starter Damian Moss blew a four-run lead, carrying the Orioles to a 7-5 win over the Oakland Athletics. It was the second consecutive win for the O’s after a nine-game losing streak.

The bullpen pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings. Hector Carrasco picked up the win with two shutout innings — including striking out the side in the sixth.

Embattled closer Jorge Julio managed to get his 30th save and first in nearly a month. It was also the team’s first save in two weeks.

The highlight of the day was a spectacular, home-run-robbing catch by Orioles center fielder Tim Raines Jr., but the story was one of sweet relief.

“They posted up big time today,” said manager Mike Hargrove. “Carrasco came in and settled things down for us and pitched well. We took him about as far as we could take him. And [Kerry] Ligtenberg came in and got a huge out with the bases loaded.”

Ligtenberg enticed Jermaine Dye to fly out to left and end a threat in the seventh. Julio made thing interesting in the ninth after coming in with one out and one on in relief of B.J. Ryan.

Several boos among the matinee crowd of 18,566 greeted Julio, who immediately surrendered a single to Miguel Tejada to put the tying run on base.

Scott Hatteberg grounded to first, and Jay Gibbons made a nifty play to get a force at second. Ramon Hernandez weakly grounded out to third to secure the Orioles’ second straight over the American League West leaders.

“Anytime you go through what Julio has been through the last few weeks, your confidence takes a hit,” said Hargrove, who had demoted Julio from his role as full-time closer. “It says a lot for the mental toughness that he has.”

Baltimore’s win puts a crimp in the title hope of Oakland, which was clinging to a 11/2 game lead over Seattle, pending the results of last night’s Mariners game at Tampa Bay. The A’s had an overall 10-game win streak and had won all seven previous meetings with Baltimore before the Orioles shellacked them 9-0 Wednesday.

A’s starter John Halama (3-5) lost despite four hits by teammate Eric Chavez, including his 25th homer, a 435-foot solo blast to right center.

Chavez’s launch cut Baltimore’s lead to 4-2 in the third, and came immediately after Billy McMillon hit a solo homer. That was the same inning as Raines’ electrifying catch.

Eric Byrnes led off with a double, and Bobby Crosby sent a flare into short center that looked like it would drop. Byrnes took off and was rounding third when Raines made a diving catch after sprinting in from deep center. Raines came up and threw to second to double up Byrnes.

After McMillon and Chavez homered, Tejada sent a missile shot to center. Raines bolted back, leaped well over the 7-foot wall and made a fully extended catch. He pulled himself back into the park before crashing to the warning track.

“I have tried to make a catch like that before in [batting practice], but I have never actually done it,” said Raines, who called it the best catch he ever made at any level. “For it to happen in a game, it blew my mind.”

The Orioles had blown a four-run lead before regaining the advantage, 6-5, in the fifth. Melvin Mora led off with a single to left but wound up at third thanks to a throwing error by second baseman Mark Ellis. Ellis tried to pick off Mora at first after he rounded the bag. The throw skipped past first base and rolled out of play, allowing Mora to advance to third. Tony Batista’s sacrifice fly scored Mora.

Oakland had evened the game 5-5 with a three-run fifth on Chavez’s RBI single and a two-run double by Hatteberg. The Orioles padded their lead to 7-5 in the seventh on Larry Bigbie’s opposite-field RBI single to left off Ricardo Rincon.

Baltimore built a 4-0 lead in the second on a run-scoring single by Raines, a two-run double by Brian Roberts and a run-scoring single by Luis Matos. In the third, Bigbie gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead with a run-scoring groundout.

Notes — The Orioles activated Jerry Hairston from the disabled list before the game. The second baseman has been out since May21 with a broken right foot that required surgery. He did not play yesterday and will split time with Roberts. … A’s outfielder Jose Guillen served the first game of a two-game suspension for bumping an umpire when he was member of the Cincinnati Reds earlier this season.

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