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10-run inning batters Orioles

SEATTLE — SEATTLE - As another routine play turned against the Orioles yesterday, the number running high for only two innings, manager Mike Hargrove leaned back on the bench and took a deep breath. His arms were folded tightly in front of him, as if loosening them might bring the temptation to choke somebody.

The incessant losing is hard enough to accept. It becomes more difficult when the Orioles botch a pickoff, or a tapper near the mound that should have produced the last out. Or the bullpen offers no relief, and the catcher again fails to do what his job entails - catch the ball.

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With the string of defeats growing, it's a wonder that Hargrove's fuse hasn't become much shorter. Lucky for him, with so many matches being struck.

One day after the Seattle Mariners rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to reverse the outcome, they took advantage of some early mistakes before sending 14 batters to the plate in the fifth during a 13-1 victory at Safeco Field that kept the Orioles winless on the West Coast portion of their trip.

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Seven consecutive losses have moved the Orioles a season-worst 13 games below .500. They've dropped 15 of 19, and none has been more disturbing than yesterday's debacle.

Damian Moss (1-3) turned in his shortest outing in six starts with the Orioles, lasting 4 2/3 innings and allowing seven runs - five of them earned. Only 47 of his 96 pitches were strikes.

"Pretty much the only reason we lost today was because I [stunk]," he said.

"Nothing frustrates me more than not giving my team a chance to win."

Rick Bauer replaced him with the bases loaded in the fifth, and the next seven batters reached during a 10-run inning. Bauer allowed six runs (one earned) and four hits, and walked two in one-third of an inning. He needed 36 pitches to get one out.

Carlos Guillen doubled twice and knocked in three runs during the inning, when 10 straight batters reached base. The Mariners had six hits, including four doubles, and four walks.

Every batter reached at least once, and all 10 runs were scored with two outs.

The Orioles tossed in their third error and a wild pitch. Why should the Mariners do all the work? John Olerud, who won Friday's game with a two-run single, made the last out on a liner that almost cleared right fielder Jay Gibbons' head, and a sellout crowd of 45,618 gave its exhausted team a rousing ovation.

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"It all starts and ends with pitching," Hargrove said. "Any time you throw that many pitches, and it's 50-50 balls and strikes, you're courting disaster. The defense gets on their heels and it affects the entire effort."

The Orioles had three hits off Seattle's Gil Meche in six innings, including Larry Bigbie's two-out triple in the sixth when center fielder Mike Cameron appeared to lose the ball in the sun. The only run came in the first when Bret Boone couldn't get off a throw on a potential double-play grounder from Jeff Conine.

Given a 1-0 lead, Moss walked the first two batters. They moved up when he threw high to second on an attempted pickoff, and the ball deflected off Brian Roberts' glove for an error. One out later, Boone's grounder tied the score.

The second inning could have pushed Hargrove over the edge. The fifth should have made him jump.

Randy Winn singled with one out in the second and advanced when backup catcher Robert Machado was charged with his third passed ball in two starts. After Rey Sanchez flied out, Ben Davis checked his swing on a bouncer to the right side of the mound. Moss fielded the ball in plenty of time, took a hop step toward first and fired it into the dirt and past Conine to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.

"That right there is just a mental mistake. That's just stupid," Moss said.

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"I can't even make a throw to first base from 45 feet away. That's ridiculous."

Doubles by Edgar Martinez and Guillen in the fifth increased Seattle's lead to 4-1, and pitching coach Mark Wiley made his third trip to the mound after Olerud walked with two outs.

"I was so worried about trying to make adjustments in my mechanics that I didn't have a game plan as far as the hitters were concerned," Moss said. "I was just out there throwing."

Said Machado: "He couldn't get any breaking balls over the plate. I was trying to help him find a pitch he could throw strikes with."

Winn walked on four pitches, Moss fidgeting as if his uniform were two sizes too small, and Hargrove bolted from the dugout after the first pitch to Sanchez missed inside. As Moss released the ball, Hargrove got a call from the bullpen that Bauer was ready.

After Ben Davis pulled into second with a two-run double, the inning lasting longer than some WB sitcoms, Wiley again trudged to the mound.

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Another walk, and an error by Tony Batista on a hard bouncer to third by Cameron, gave Seattle a 9-1 lead, and the seventh run scored on Bauer's wild pitch.

"I got behind guys and against this team, that leads to disaster," Bauer said. "I was just bad today. It snowballed, and I couldn't stop the bleeding."

Through it all, Hargrove held his composure, meeting individually with a few players after the game rather than spewing venom in the clubhouse.

"Those guys know we played poorly today," he said. "I don't have to go in there and scream at them and tell them that. Now, if we continue that, you bet."

Orioles today

Opponent: Seattle Mariners

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Site: Safeco Field, Seattle

Time: 4:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jason Johnson (10-5, 3.72) vs. Mariners' Jamie Moyer (16-6, 3.75)


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