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Gibbons rejoins lineup, ice and all

CLEVELAND — CLEVELAND - Jay Gibbons walked through the visitors' clubhouse at Jacobs Field yesterday with ice packs strapped to his lower back and left hip. How could anyone not notice?

"Can you take batting practice that way?" one Oriole asked him. Gibbons just smiled and kept moving.

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The packs soon came off, and Gibbons did more than hit in the cage. He was in the starting lineup as the designated hitter for yesterday's makeup game against the Cleveland Indians.

Gibbons went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Jake Westbrook in the Orioles' 14-0 loss to the Indians.

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The Orioles activated Gibbons before the game and optioned outfielder Tim Raines Jr. to Triple-A Ottawa. Gibbons and Raines made the trip to Cleveland, but only one of them was on the club's roster by the first pitch.

No offense to Raines, but the Orioles were glad it was Gibbons. He went on the disabled list retroactive to May 26 with recurring spasms in his back, interrupting his eight-game hitting streak.

Gibbons was 0-for-5 with a walk in two rehab starts at Double-A Bowie. He's expected to play right field tonight when the Orioles begin their interleague series in Los Angeles.

"We waited until he was a full-go," said manager Lee Mazzilli, who used B.J. Surhoff in right field yesterday. "I could have put him out there today but I wanted B.J. to play, too. That's the only reason he's DH-ing. It wasn't as a precaution. When we activated him, he had to be ready to go both ways."

Raines made two starts in right during his second call-up by the Orioles. He went 2-for-3 with a double in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader.

The Orioles sent him out with a few instructions on how to become a more productive player.

"He needs to get down there and play. I think it's going to benefit him more. He did well up here. He just needs to concentrate on a few things we talked about," Mazzilli said.

"He needs to utilize his speed. He's swinging the bat OK. He needs to bunt and do the things that make him a catalyst for a team, a disruptive-type force."

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Riley to start

The mystery over tomorrow's starter has been solved.

The Orioles will recall left-hander Matt Riley from Triple-A Ottawa, a move that won't become official until tomorrow, when they'll also make a corresponding roster move.

Riley, placed on the disabled list May 11 with soreness in his left shoulder, allowed two runs in 15 innings at Ottawa, striking out 17 over three starts. He's 1-1 with a 6.33 ERA in five games with the Orioles, including four starts.

Reliever Rick Bauer was eliminated from contention after throwing 62 pitches in relief of Eric DuBose yesterday. He's a candidate to be sent down tomorrow, but the field is growing.

The Orioles had an opening in their rotation because of Saturday's doubleheader.

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Jacobs jinx

When it comes to the Orioles' struggles at Jacobs Field, the players can agree on one point: They're at a loss to explain all the losses.

"I really have no idea why," second baseman Jerry Hairston said.

That seems to be the prevailing theme. The Orioles are 13-35 since the stadium opened in 1994, dropping 18 of the past 21 games.

"I love this ballpark. It's a great place to play," Hairston said. "Personally, I don't have a problem with it. I just hope we can turn it around."

The Orioles have lost big and lost small. They've been walked over and beaten by walk-off home runs.

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In the first two games this season, the Indians won 11-2 and 3-2 in 13 innings. That just about sums it up.

"I don't know why that happens," reliever B.J. Ryan said. "This place is kind of like Camden Yards, so I have no idea."

"There's no rhyme or reason for it," reliever Buddy Groom said. "It's just one of those things where you have a ballpark you don't seem to win in. For a while we couldn't win in Seattle, either. Murphy's Law usually kicks in sometime during the game and you end up losing it, but there's always a chance to break the jinx.

"I haven't noticed anything different here. I just approach everything like I always do. Pitch the same way you do no matter where you're at. Hopefully, things will change."

The Orioles won't find out until next season.


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