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Yanks win in a walk, 10-4

At this rate, the Orioles are going to shatter the club record for most walks allowed in a season.

And at this rate, they"re going to turn manager Lee Mazzilli's head very gray in the process.

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His pitchers can't seem to find the strike zone, and that problem has never been more apparent than it was in last night's 10-4 loss to the New York Yankees.

A sellout crowd of 49,696 - the largest in the 13-year history of Camden Yards - turned out to see an Orioles walkathon, a microcosm of a frustrating season for Mazzilli.

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The Orioles walked a season- high 13 batters and fell to 0-7 on the season against the Yankees.

Here's how it started for Orioles pitcher Matt Riley: Walk, walk, home run. Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees a quick, 3-0 lead.

Here's how it started for Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina: Single, single, home run. Miguel Tejada immediately evened the score, 3-3.

But given a clean slate to start the second inning, Riley couldn't capitalize. That one went: single, single, strikeout, home run. Derek Jeter hit his three-run blast into the center- field seats, and the Yankees never looked back.

By the end, nothing was more frustrating for the Orioles than the walks, which included four by Riley, four by John Parrish, four by Rodrigo Lopez and one by Buddy Groom.

Asked if he was exasperated, Mazzilli said, "I don't know if that's a good word. Thirteen walks, one hit guy, two double plays that didn't get turned. It's not good."

Their club record for walks in a single game is 15, set on Sept. 19, 2000, against Oakland.

The club record for a season is 688, set by the 1954 club in its first season after moving the franchise from St. Louis.

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This year, the Orioles are on pace to allow 778 walks.

If this gets much worse, they could threaten the major league record of 827 set by the 1957 Philadelphia Athletics.

Mussina recovered masterfully after Tejada hit his home run, retiring the final 12 batters he faced. He finished five innings, allowing four runs on four hits.

Unlike the Orioles pitchers, he wasn't plagued by a single walk.

And to think, as far as pitching goes for the Orioles, this is it.

With elbow injuries to Kurt Ainsworth and Eric DuBose, the Orioles no longer have a list of viable alternatives if the current five struggle.

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They put Lopez back in the starting rotation yesterday, with plans to push forward with the fivesome of Sidney Ponson, Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Riley and Lopez.

Top prospect John Maine is struggling at Triple-A, so the team would have to make a trade to improve the starting pitching at this point.

Riley has already been shipped to Triple-A Ottawa and back this season. Making his second start since his return, he got clobbered again last night, raising his ERA to a team-worst 8.56.

The Yankees killed him with a combination of patience and power.

Any momentum the Orioles felt from Sunday's victory at Colorado, and Brian Roberts" ninth-inning grand slam, was gone three batters into the game.

On Riley's first two walks - to Bernie Williams and Jeter to start the game - he lost both of them with a full count. Rodriguez hit his next pitch for his 17th homer of the season.

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It wasn't that bad of a pitch - a fastball, low and away - but Rodriguez reached out and lifted it over the right-field scoreboard.

Riley came out throwing strikes in the second, but that hurt him. Tony Clark (0-2 count) singled, Miguel Cairo (0-1) singled, and with one out, Jeter (0-2) hit his 10th home run.

Mazzilli let Riley finish the inning, but that was it. In 27- innings this season, Riley has given up 26 earned runs.

"I have Jeter 0-and-2 and hang a breaking ball to him. That's terrible." said Riley. 'There's no excuse for that. The Yankees are a very disciplined team, and if you fall behind [in the count], they"re going to make you pay."

At least Parrish was able to minimize the damage. Besides walking four batters in three innings, he also hit a batter, but the Yankees were only able to push their lead to 7-4 with a single run in the third.

But if the rest of the game was difficult for Mazzilli, the sixth inning was excruciating. Lopez, in a tuneup before Saturday's start, came on and allowed four walks (one intentional).

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When he walked Clark with two outs, it forced home the Yankees" eighth run.

New York made it 10-4 when Rodriguez hit a towering two- run blast off Lopez in the seventh inning.

NOTE: Members of the Junior Orioles Dugout Club and their families who were turned away from last night's game, which drew the largest crowd in Camden Yards history, were given vouchers that can be redeemed at any remaining home game subject to availability. That includes tonight's game, which has more than 9,000 seats remaining.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Camden Yards

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Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Yankees' Jon Lieber (5-4, 4.83) vs. Orioles' Erik Bedard (1-2, 4.33)


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