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Drops, O's hits rain on Sox, 11-5
Orioles' 5-run eighth follows 1:48 rain delay as Boston skid grows; Fordyce has four hits, HR
By Joe Strauss
Originally published August 18, 2001
BOSTON -- If Red Sox fans aren't addicted to angst, why would they sit during a rain delay while the scoreboard matrix showed Bill Buckner "highlights" from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series?
Better yet, why would they sit through six innings of Tim Wakefield followed by almost two hours of rain to watch one-plus innings of Rod "Shooter" Beck?
Giving the Red Sox Nation what it expects from its wilting flowers, the Orioles pounded Wakefield, Beck and the rest of an ineffective bullpen for an 11-5 win last night before a soaked crowd of 33,680 at Fenway Park. One day after Boston convulsed over the palace coup that brought about manager Jimy Williams' ouster, the Orioles pushed the stumbling Red Sox another rung lower on the wild-card ladder with their seventh win in 10 games.
Four hits from previously slumping catcher Brook Fordyce and three from right fielder Chris Richard, four RBIs from left fielder Jeff Conine and at least one run from eight of nine spots in the batting order gave the Orioles their most convincing win of the second half while leaving them 5-4 against the Red Sox this season.
"I just got some good pitches to hit tonight and put some good swings on them," said Fordyce, who lifted his average from .205 to .218. "It was a good confidence-builder."
Having nearly blown a pair of three-run leads, the Orioles finished off the Red Sox and ensured a win for long-gone starter Josh Towers (8-7) with a five-run eighth inning that opened with five consecutive hits. At 52-70, the Orioles climbed within a game of their record at the same juncture last season. At 66-54, the Red Sox under new manager Joe Kerrigan fell six games off the AL East lead and three games behind wild-card leader Oakland.
"If you can't be in the race yourself, you'd like to have something to do with who comes out of it," Conine said. "If that's what you have to play for, you play for it."
The Orioles carried a 6-4 lead into the 1:48 sixth-inning delay because Cal Ripken's two double-play grounders and back-to-back failed steal attempts couldn't stop a 12-hit romp against knuckleballer Wakefield (8-8). Five days after his five-inning relief appearance earned him a win over the Orioles and a return to the rotation, Wakefield served as a makeshift pinata. Thirteen of the Orioles' first 23 hitters reached on hits, walks, errors and a strikeout-passed ball.
Three consecutive hits to lead off the third inning followed by Conine's two-out, two-run single gave Towers a 3-0 lead in an inning that saw six consecutive hitters reach before Richard struck out and Ripken grounded into his second double play in as many innings.
Ripken entered the game riding a 10-for-17 tear. He left having extended his major-league record for hitting into double plays to 346.
If Wakefield's 59-mph knuckler had lost a step, Towers again showed the lack of precision that has followed him since a breakout June.
The Red Sox began three straight productive innings by pulling within 3-2 in the third on catcher Doug Mirabelli's leadoff home run followed by Trot Nixon's double and a one-out single by Manny Ramirez. Since his streak of 21 consecutive shutout innings ended June 14, Towers has allowed 13 home runs in 77 2/3 innings.
"I felt like I was throwing with all arm. I don't know why," he said. "So after awhile I just tried to throw it over the plate and keep it down."
Mirabelli, a journeyman who has filled the catching void created by Jason Varitek's absence, enjoyed a myth-making night. He resurfaced in the fourth inning after Fordyce gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead with his fifth home run.
Mirabelli's one-out single brought the Red Sox back within a run immediately after he ended the top of the inning by throwing out Jerry Hairston and Melvin Mora at second base. It was the second time in as many days Mirabelli had caught two runners attempting to steal in the same inning. Before Thursday, no Red Sox catcher had accomplished the feat since April 1999.
The Orioles continued to pile on in the fifth when three singles and Ripken's sacrifice fly brought them a 6-3 lead. For Ripken, it was his 10th RBI in five games. For the Orioles, it marked the second time a three-run lead had the life expectancy of a fruit fly.
Again afflicted with shoddy defense, the Orioles allowed Carl Everett to manufacture a run in the bottom of the fifth by doubling, stealing third, then scoring when Fordyce's throw skipped past Ripken into left field. The play cost the Red Sox as well when Everett suffered a slight hamstring pull.
Towers was clearly gasping for relief before Hargrove rescued him after three consecutive singles began the home sixth inning. Only Mora's throw from center field to stop Mike Lansing attempting to stretch a single averted a blowout before Hargrove trudged through an intensifying downpour to summon left-hander John Bale.
Bale held the lead for Towers by following a four-pitch walk that loaded the bases with a sacrifice fly and groundout that left the game at 6-5.
The Red Sox received less from their bullpen. Beck was roughed up for three runs during the eighth inning before Bill Pulsipher relieved with two runs of his own.
Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun