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O's find a way to win


The Orioles tried to play National League ball yesterday, tried to steal bases and stretch singles into doubles and dispense with the station-to-station approach that has come to define them.

Why bother? A club that's not built for speed has no business in the fast lane. Better to hang with the monster trucks than the sprint cars.

Running into outs four times in the first five innings, the Orioles resorted to the form that suits them best, using two home runs and a tie-breaking double among 16 hits to dispatch the Florida Marlins, 9-5, before 42,444 at Camden Yards.

The victory was the second in six games for the Orioles (39-51) and their first in the second half. It prevented them from falling a season-worst 14 games below .500 and improved their interleague record to 6-10 after being swept by the Atlanta Braves.

Delino DeShields hit a three-run homer off Marlins rookie Chuck Smith to erase a 2-0 deficit in the third. B.J. Surhoff connected against left-hander Vic Darensbourg leading off the sixth to tie the score, 4-4, and catcher Charles Johnson doubled off former Oriole Ricky Bones later in the inning for a 5-4 lead after striking out twice against Smith.

The Orioles added two more runs in the sixth on the first major-league hit for Ivanon Coffie and a sacrifice fly by Brady Anderson. They broke open the game in the eighth to bail out starter Pat Rapp, who departed after 5 1/3 innings and 122 pitches, and make a winner of Alan Mills (2-0).

Mike Timlin pitched the last 1 2/3 innings for his 10th save, allowing a harmless run in the ninth before the Marlins stranded their 15th runner. He's finished the past three victories, including two in Philadelphia before the break, to re-establish himself as the closer.

"Any time you can get a win, you'll take it any way you can get it," said manager Mike Hargrove.

The Orioles eventually took it slow. DeShields and Surhoff were cut down trying to steal in the first two innings, and Anderson and DeShields were thrown out at second base by right fielder Mark Kotsay in the fifth. Coffie was doubled off first base by Kotsay to end the sixth after giving the Orioles a 6-4 lead with a run-scoring single.

Kotsay tied a major-league record with two assists in the same inning and fell one short of the record for most assists in a game.

"Those were good base-running plays," said Hargrove, who used six pitchers as the Marlins were putting a runner in scoring position every inning.

"It never looks good when you get thrown out at second base, but [Kotsay] just happened to make great plays. You have to give credit where credit is due. If you don't take chances on those types of balls, you're going to sit back and wait for something to happen that never happens."

DeShields, the Orioles' leader in stolen bases and the player most capable of mimicking clubs like the Marlins and Braves, erased a 2-0 deficit in the third after Coffie and Anderson had walked with one out. It was DeShields' fourth homer and his first since May 7.

The Orioles tried to build on their 3-2 lead in the fourth, getting a one-out double by Will Clark off the scoreboard in right and a walk to Harold Baines. But Smith, still winless in six major-league starts, struck out Johnson and Coffie to end the threat.

Almost predictably, the Marlins tied the score the next inning. Kotsay led off with a double to left, the ball glancing off Surhoff's glove as he approached the corner. Cliff Floyd singled and Preston Wilson delivered Kotsay with a sacrifice fly.

That brought the Orioles' half of the fifth and excessive waste. Anderson, Mike Bordick and DeShields strung together hits with none out, but Kotsay's arm and Albert Belle's strikeout after narrowly missing a home run to left prevented the Orioles from scoring.

They had a similar experience against the Braves on Friday, getting a walk and three singles in the first inning but scoring only once because two runners were thrown out.

This time, only an opportunity was lost. Surhoff hit his 12th homer, and first since June 14, to pull the Orioles even and begin a four-run inning that decided the outcome. Bordick and Belle contributed run-scoring singles in the eighth.

"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it and try to do better tomorrow," Hargrove said. "I don't know that we'll try to test Kotsay's arm again."

Rapp was charged with four runs, the last scoring on a bases-loaded walk by Mills in the sixth that gave Florida a 4-3 lead. Wilson doubled in Floyd, who had walked with two outs in the first, for a 1-0 lead. Belle made a sliding catch to end the second inning and prevent a run, but Floyd sent a high chopper over Clark's head and hustled into second base with a double in the third that increased the margin to 2-0.

Rapp was 87 pitches into this start as the fourth inning closed. He gave up three hits and a run in the fifth, and a walk and single in the sixth before Hargrove pulled him.

"I didn't have much today," Rapp said. "They have been known to be a free-swinging team and they put a lot of balls in play."

Rapp didn't blame a 1:17 delay at the start of the game for not being sharp.

"I just sat out in the pen waiting for them to make a decision. I don't think it had anything to do with it. But maybe I can use that as an excuse."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Florida Marlins

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Marlins' Reid Cornelius (3-2, 3.76) vs. Orioles' Jose Mercedes (3-4, 6.25)

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