xml:space="preserve">

It wasn't particularly dramatic, nor the stuff of baseball lore, but bottom-of-the-ninth victories against the Yankees are still welcomed in these parts, even if the winning run does trot across the plate after being forced in by a bases-loaded walk.

The Orioles' 3-2 triumph last night was a refreshing change from the way the season has been going so far. For a change, someone else's bullpen had a meltdown. New York relief pitcher Scott Proctor walked three batters in the ninth, the last being Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez, a free pass that forced home Corey Patterson.

Advertisement

It came after a bit of controversy. Hernandez said a previous pitch by Proctor had grazed his shoulder, but he couldn't convince home plate umpire Rob Drake. After getting himself worked up, Hernandez said he realized he had to calm down to continue the at-bat. He regained his concentration and took the walk.

In addition to the win, the further good news was that more than 39,000 fans showed up at Camden Yards to see the game. Now, there was a lot of cheering for Johnny Damon's two-run homer, but it's impossible to figure out whether the attendance was simply due to the Yankees being in town or perhaps a bit of a sense of renewal following the managerial change from Sam Perlozzo to interim Dave Trembley. But whatever the reason, it was good to see Camden Yards filled again.

Jeremy Guthrie started for the Orioles and got another no-decision, giving up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Guthrie has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts. Chris Ray got the win in relief.

There should be another big crowd tonight with Roger Clemens pitching against Erik Bedard.

*  In the three-way battle in the NL West, the Dodgers took a slim lead over Arizona and San Diego, getting a pair of homers from unlikely heroes. Tony Abreu hit his first career home run in a pinch-hit role in the top of the 10th for the deciding run in a 6-5 Los Angeles win over the Diamondbacks. And rookie first baseman James Loney hit a two-run homer earlier in the game in his first start. Loney has hit three homers in 12 games since being called up from the minors. Los Angeles has a half-game lead over the D-backs and Padres.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement