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Zeile has day he'd like to forget Error leading to run, 3 strikeouts, failed bunt is nightmare for 3rd baseman; AL Division Series @

CLEVELAND — CLEVELAND -- Todd Zeile is in a 3-for-41 slump at the plate, and yesterday he struggled in the field as well.

Zeile came up in several important junctures in the game, but after his first-inning single he failed to reach base again. He struck out looking in the second inning with the bases loaded and two outs.

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Zeile also struck out in the fourth inning and hit into a 6-4-3 double play with runners on first and second and no one out with the score tied in the seventh.

Zeile had intentions of bunting in that spot, but could not get a bunt down. Zeile said he couldn't remember ever sacrifice bunting before, but he did so four times with Philadelphia last year.

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He struck out again in the ninth inning to end the game.

"Early on, it was really tough to see because of the sun," Zeile said. "I was trying to get a bunt down, but I didn't get it done. It was an 0-2 count and I was trying to put the ball in play somehow. I hit it right to somebody."

Zeile had a bit of trouble at third base, too.

Omar Vizquel scored the Indians' third run of the game after advancing to second base on Zeile's throwing error in the second inning, after Zeile charged a ball hit to the side of the pitcher's mound.

Just another Ripken day

Cal Ripken said postseason glory won't alter his approach to the game or his philosophy toward his major-league-record consecutive-games streak.

Ripken, who has played in a record 2,316 straight regular-season games, said he doesn't plan on changing anything about how he goes about his job, even if he gets another World Series ring.

"I guess if somebody said if you take a game off next year, you'll win the World Series this year, I'd probably say OK," Ripken said. "But there is no such deal. What you have to do is go out and play the best you can.

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"The streak has never been something that I just continue to play for. The reason I play is because I like to play baseball, and that's what I do. I feel very strong about that approach. So, if I'm willing, and the manager wants to put me in the lineup, I'm going to continue to play and use that approach as long as I play."

Ripken's approach is working lately.

He has an 11-game hitting streak, dating to the regular season. Ripken is hitting .405 (17-for-42) in that span, with six doubles, two homers and five RBIs. He also has hit in 19 of his last 20 !! games, going 27-for-78 (.346), with nine doubles, five homers and 16 RBIs.

Kenny Lofton's head plowed into Ripken's knee on his seventh-inning steal of second, but Ripken said he was fine after the game.

Other O's streaks

Ripken isn't the only Oriole on a tear.

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Brady Anderson had a six-game hitting streak broken yesterday, but still reached base twice and drove in a run by getting hit by a pitch in the second inning.

Anderson is hitting .481 (13-for-27) in his last seven games with five homers and seven RBIs.

Rafael Palmeiro had a nine-game hitting streak broken, but is still 12-for-39 (.308) with two homers and five RBIs.

B. J. Surhoff extended his hot hitting with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Surhoff has three home runs and five RBIs in the first three playoff games. He has hit in eight of his last nine games at a .361 clip (13-for-36).

Managers glad to see umps

Managers Mike Hargrove and Davey Johnson both discussed the damage done to the game by Roberto Alomar spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck and the subsequent labor problems between Major League Baseball and its umpires.

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There was fear of an umpires' strike yesterday to protest the five-game suspension Alomar received. But a court injunction prevented that.

"There's so many things that have come up in the last couple of years that have tarnished baseball's image, the last thing we needed was another labor dispute in baseball," Johnson said. "I'm glad we avoided that."

The last serious baseball labor problems resulted in the cancellation of the 1994 playoffs and World Series and a delayed start to the 1995 season. Hargrove said he was worried that another labor incident would add to the game's image problems.

"Yeah, I was [worried]," Hargrove said, "but I don't know how you can tarnish something that's already been tarnished. This is just another of a series of setbacks that the game has faced. We'll get through this, and once we get to the other side of it, we'll all be better for it."

Look out, Yankees

Johnson said he believes the team the Orioles assembled down the stretch was good enough to win the AL East this year; he just wishes he had that team all year long.

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"I'm always surprised that the talent I had didn't win the division," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, this year there were some shortfalls. I think what hurt us the most was not having any right-handed relief for a while, and we had a lack of depth in our starting rotation."

Johnson said the emergence of relievers Alan Mills and Archie Corbin, and rookie starter Rocky Coppinger, helped the pitching woes, and he feels he now has a championship-caliber club.

"Right now I feel if we would've had this club as it stands right now, we would've won the division," Johnson said.

Johnson: Wells is OK

Johnson said starter David Wells is still dealing with a sore ankle and a stiff neck, but the minor injuries will not affect his pitching status for Game 4 today.

Wells was hit in the left ankle with a line drive in Game 1 and has had a stiff neck for about a week.

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"He's got ice all over his body, but he'll be fine [today]," Johnson said.

Corbin eager to pitch

Corbin said he's eagerly anticipating getting his first taste of the postseason.

The Orioles relied on the reliever in August in September, but he has yet to pitch in the Division Series. Corbin has pitched one-third of an inning in the last two weeks.

Corbin said he's been throwing at least five minutes in the bullpen every other day to get himself ready to pitch, since it's been so long between outings.

"I'm anxious to get back out there," Corbin said. "My last outing was one of my worst. I've changed my routine a little bit to stay ready. You never know when your chance is going to come.

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"If our starters keep going six or seven innings, they won't need me. But that's all right, because that means we're winning. I can always get them in the next round."

Around the horn

Albert Belle's seventh-inning grand slam was the first postseason grand slam by an Indian since Albert Smith hit one in the 1920 World Series. Smith's grand slam was the first ever hit in World Series play. Belle stole his first base of the postseason. He was 11-for-11 in steal attempts during the regular season. Orioles prospect Chris Fussell threw this week for the first time since August, appearing in a Florida instructional league game. Fussell's Single-A season ended early because of elbow problems. Eugene Kingsale faced live pitching for the first time since May in the instructional league and got three hits. Kingsale spent the last month of the season with the Orioles, but was used solely as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He injured his shoulder in May at Single-A Frederick. The Indians crowd of 44,250 fans yesterday was the second largest since Jacobs Field opened in 1994.

Homer-happy O's

B.J. Surhoff

Inning: Fourth

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Count: 1-2

Situation: First and third, none out

Distance: 380 feet

Location: Right field

Indians pitcher: Jack McDowell

Score: Orioles, 4-3

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Team total in series: 6


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