- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees don’t just play baseball games against each other. They play marathons, and they engaged in another one last night at Camden Yards.

The two longest nine-inning games in Orioles history have been against the Yankees, both running nearly 4-1/2 hours (4:22 in New York in 1997, 4:21 in Baltimore in 1996). Last night’s 12-9 Yankees win — with a total of 11 pitchers giving up 30 hits — lasted 3:48, with the added burden of a rain delay of more than an hour before a crowd of 37,610 that had thinned out considerably by the time this game was decided.

Both starting pitchers — former Oriole Mike Mussina and Baltimore’s Rodrigo Lopez — were long gone by that point. The Orioles’ sixth straight defeat dropped them two games below .500 (20-22).

With Baltimore down 7-3 going into the sixth inning, B.J. Surhoff, playing in place of injured Jay Gibbons, blasted a three-run homer off the first pitch Paul Quantrill threw in relief of Mussina, who had walked Miguel Tejada and given up a single to Javy Lopez. Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie followed with singles to right, and designated hitter Jerry Hairston singled to center to drive Matos home and tie it at 7-7.

Melvin Mora then singled home Bigbie, and Tejada followed with a single to left, scoring Hairston and putting the Orioles on top 9-7.

But New York came right back to tie it in the seventh on a home run by Hideki Matsui and an RBI single by Enrique Wilson, then went ahead 12-9 on a pinch-hit RBI single by Bernie Williams and a two-run double by Gary Sheffield, who hit a three-run homer earlier.

With one out in the Orioles’ first, Mora continued his torrid batting by sending a 3-1 pitch from Mussina into the seats in right-center field for his ninth homer of the season.

Mussina also encountered rough seas in the second as Surhoff singled to center and Matos doubled down the left-field line. Surhoff scored on a grounder to second by Bigbie, and Matos came in on a sacrifice fly by Hairston to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.

New York finally got on the board in the fourth after Matsui led off with a walk and eventually scored on a ground ball by Tony Clark. In the Yankees’ fifth, Kenny Lofton led off with a double off the right-field scoreboard and scored on Derek Jeter’s single to left. Then, about 50 minutes later than it did on Tuesday night, rain stopped play for 65 minutes.

When play resumed, Alex Rodriguez beat out a ground ball to third and Sheffield blasted a 1-0 pitch from Lopez into the left-field seats for a three-run homer, putting New York on top 5-3.

Notes — Outfielder Jay Gibbons, who had to leave the game in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s 11-3 loss to New York with back spasms, is day-to-day. B.J. Surhoff was in right field for last night’s game instead of Gibbons, who had an eight-game hitting streak and was batting .309 in his last 17 games. In 39 games overall, Gibbons is batting .250 with six home runs and 25 RBI. …

One of manager Lee Mazzilli’s priorities is a meeting with reliever Mike DeJean and pitching coach Mark Wiley to try to stop the pitcher’s disastrous run of late. He allowed four runs, including a three-run homer by Alex Rodriguez, in Tuesday night’s loss and was charged with the loss last Friday in Anaheim, giving up hits to all three batters he faced. “We’ve got to sit down and figure something out, because I think he has too good stuff to keep going the way he is going right now,” Mazzilli said. In 18 appearances this season, DeJean is 0-4 with a 9.19 ERA.

Tonight’s scheduled starter for New York, Kevin Brown, left the team yesterday for personal reasons, club officials said. Jose Contreras (1-2, 7.56 ERA), the former Cuban national team pitcher who faced the Orioles in Havana and at Camden Yards in their exhibition series in 1999, will start for the Yankees.

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