- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 4, 2004

NEW YORK — Kevin Brown’s frustrating season finally reached a boiling point, and now his hot temper could cost the New York Yankees at the most important time.

Brown broke his non-pitching hand when he punched a wall in the clubhouse last night during a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles that cut New York’s lead in the American League East to just 21/2 games over Boston.

“Stupidity,” Brown said. “I reacted to frustration I’d swallowed all year. … There are no excuses. I let it boil over, and I did something stupid. I owe my teammates an apology for letting my emotions take over like that.”

Already short on starting pitching, the Yankees were unsure how long the 39-year-old right-hander might be out. He was to be examined by a hand specialist today.

“My plan is to splint it and pitch. I just pray that my stupidity didn’t hurt the team,” Brown said.

Acquired from Los Angeles last offseason, the oft-injured Brown missed seven weeks in June and July with a strained lower back and intestinal parasite. He tweaked his knee while covering first base on an awkward play in the fifth inning last night, then was hit on the right forearm by Miguel Tejada’s RBI single in the sixth.

Steamed by it all, he walked around the clubhouse in the middle of the sixth and punched a wall, breaking two bones in his left hand. That was the end of his night.

“You just can’t do this, there’s no doubt about it. You’ve got to keep your emotions in check,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “It’s a major issue that we shouldn’t be dealing with. It’s a problem.”

Cashman and Yankees manger Joe Torre were visibly annoyed. Cashman said Brown could be disciplined or fined. Torre said he spoke to Brown and expressed his disappointment.

“Certainly uncalled for and unnecessary,” Torre said. “There’s more to this game than one person. We rely on him a great deal. It’s not something that’s helping the team, obviously.”

Brown (10-4) dropped to 1-3 in his last five starts and 3-8 lifetime against Baltimore. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked two.

“Kevin has great pride and great passion for the game. I’m sure he regrets it,” teammate Alex Rodriguez said. “We’ve had a lot of hurdles this year. It’s just another one we’re going to have to overcome, and we will.”

New York’s division lead has not been this slim since June12. The Yankees led the AL East by a season-high 101/2 games Aug.15.

Rodrigo Lopez shut down the Yankees into the eighth inning, Tejada got his major league-leading 122nd RBI as the erratic Orioles won their fifth straight following a 12-game losing streak. They improved to 3-11 against New York this season, winning for only the sixth time in the last 24 matchups.

Lopez (11-8) allowed six hits and struck out seven in a season-high 71/3 innings, taking over the team lead in wins. He entered with a 13.50 ERA in three appearances against the Yankees this season. It was his first victory in four starts.

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