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Davis gives battered bullpen a lift, if not a win


CLEVELAND -- The heat was getting to starting pitcher Mark Mussina and the heat was on the Orioles bullpen, but righthander Storm Davis came on to dispense with the Cleveland Indians in short order.

Davis came on with a runner at first and no one out in the seventh inning of a tense, one-run game -- the kind of situation the Orioles middle relief crew has had trouble with during the past few days. But it was no problem this time.

He got shortstop Mark Lewis to ground into a double play and got out of the inning on a pop fly. He needed two solid defensive plays by Cal Ripken in the eighth, but he sent the Indians down 1-2-3 to give the Orioles one more chance against Cleveland righthander Charles Nagy.

The game would not turn around and the Indians won, 3-2, but the performance by Davis had to be a psychological lift for the rest of the bullpen. There had been late-inning flare-ups in each of the four previous games, but Davis insists that things will get better.

"I've been around long enough to know there are going to be times like these," he said. "As long as we are aggressive, we'll be all right. I don't think anybody has backed off of being aggressive."

Davis didn't, though he had given up three runs on five hits during three innings in his previous two appearances.

"There have been times when he has struggled," manager Johnny Oates said, "but he has had a lot of games like [yesterday]. He did a job for us. That's what we need our bullpen to do."

* CHARLES IN CHARGE: The Orioles shouldn't be hard on themselves for coming up short against Nagy. He is 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his past five starts. He has not walked a batter in his past 28 2/3 innings, and he has given up two runs or fewer in 11 of his past 14 games.

* POOLE STRUGGLES: Lefthander Jim Poole gave up two home runs Monday night for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, but the club is nearing a decision on his status.

Poole, whose velocity is just returning to normal, probably will remain on his injury rehabilitation assignment for at least the next few days, even though the Orioles have had problems in the bullpen.

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