- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2003

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles are in fourth place in the American League East, more than 20 games out of first place. They are just as far out in the wild-card race.

And yet, the Orioles are in the playoff race, but their role is to determine who gets there and who doesn’t.

After taking two of three from both the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, the Orioles continued to play the spoiler last night as they defeated the Boston Red Sox 13-10 in a wild game before 23,276 at Camden Yards.

It was the Orioles’ sixth victory over the Red Sox in the teams’ last eight games. The Red Sox trail the Yankees by 31/2 games in the AL East but lead the Mariners by a game in the wild-card race.

When Orioles closer Jorge Julio got the last out the fans left in the park seemed exhausted. Who could blame them? They witnessed 32 hits — 16 for each team — nine pitchers, five errors — four by Boston — and two Red Sox ejections.

Those errors though are ultimately what cost the Red Sox the game in the eighth.

With the score tied 9-9 after a solo home run by Nomar Garciaparra, the Orioles took advantage of several Red Sox miscues.

Jerry Hairston got an infield hit. Luis Matos bunted but reliever Byung-Hyun Kim fielded the ball and looked at second base. When he finally turned to throw to first the ball hit Matos and bounced away. Matos was safe and Hairston moved to third.

After Jay Gibbons popped up to second, Tony Batista worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a soft ground ball to second. The Red Sox’s Todd Walker threw home, but Hairston beat the tag.

And when Melvin Mora singled to left Matos scored to make it 11-9. The Orioles added two more runs when center fielder Johnny Damon dropped a short fly ball by Deivi Cruz to allow Batista and Mora to score.

Bill Mueller added a solo home run in the Boston ninth but the damage was already done.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove understated everything when he said after the game, “It was certainly exciting and had a little bit of everything. It was a game of ebb and flow.”

Boston went into the seventh inning with an 8-5 lead, but the bullpen, as has been the case so often this year, blew it. The Orioles not only got back into the game, but they actually took a one-run lead.

Matos led off with a double and appeared to get caught in a rundown when Gibbons hit a comebacker to Mike Timlin. However, Timlin threw wildly to Mueller at third and Matos was safe. The ball bounced off a railing near the Boston dugout, came back to Mueller and he got Gibbons in a rundown between first and second for the first out. Hargrove argued the ball went out of play, but to no avail.

Matos scored when Batista singled to center. After a single by Larry Bigbie and a walk to Mora to load the bases, Cruz ripped a bases-clearing double down the left field line to give the Orioles a 9-8 lead.

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek argued that Cruz’s hit was a foul ball and was ejected by home plate umpire Jerry Crawford. Then second base umpire Phil Cuzzi threw out pitcher Derek Lowe, who was yelling from the dugout.

Notes — It’s September call-up time, and today the Orioles will bring up pitchers Sean Douglass and Matt Riley, catcher Geronimo Gil and first baseman Carlos Mendez from Class AAA Ottawa. Class AA Bowie manager Dave Trembley also will join the major league club today as its seventh coach.

Pitching coach Mark Wiley has taken a two-day personal leave for undisclosed reasons. Former Orioles pitcher Scott McGregor, who was the pitching coach at Class A Frederick, is filling in for Wiley.

The Orioles’ minor league clubs finished their seasons with a combined record of 368-389, but that represents a significant improvement from last year, when the organization’s farm clubs had a combined mark of 332-434.

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