PHILADELPHIA — PHILADELPHIA - Before Orioles starter Matt Riley could throw a pitch in the first inning last night, his third baseman began chasing a bird that had landed in the infield grass. Riley continued to wait as Melvin Mora scooped the intruder into his glove and carried it to the dugout, the leadoff hitter by now almost forgotten.
Then it got weird. And tedious. And ridiculously long.
Riley was gone before recording an out in the second inning, and his five-run lead soon followed. He snatched the cap off his head, fired it against the wall behind the Orioles' bench and glared at the mound, where manager Lee Mazzilli waited for reliever John Parrish.
Both teams sent nine batters to the plate in the first, and the opener of this interleague series wasn't decided until Riley had cooled down, the bullpens and benches were exhausted, starter Daniel Cabrera became the closer, and Miguel Tejada singled off Brian Powell in the 16th to score David Newhan and give the Orioles a 7-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies before 44,390 at Citizens Bank Park.
The last two games have to run smoother, or at least shorter, since this one ranked as the longest in Orioles history at 6:15, and the longest game - by time - in the majors this year.
"If you came and paid to watch a game, you got your money's worth," Mazzilli said. "That's a game and half."
Two Orioles left with injuries, and the staff issued a club-record 18 walks. Rafael Palmeiro dropped a pop-up, and Jerry Hairston mishandled a fly ball. Jim Thome, who struck out five times, was called out on a pitch that bounced in front of the plate and ricocheted off catcher Javy Lopez.
This was no way to stage an instant classic.
Tejada belted his 14th homer leading off the seventh against Tim Worrell to erase a 6-5 deficit and extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He also was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Bobby Abreu on a single by Lopez to end the 14th, and prevented a loss in the bottom half by fielding Placido Polanco's bouncer in the hole with the bases loaded and throwing him out by a half-step.
Just when it appeared the teams would play until they dropped, Newhan reached on an infield hit, moved to second on Tim Raines' sacrifice bunt and raced home on Tejada's single to center field. Cabreara capped a bizarre night by stranding two runners to pick up his first major league save and preserve the win for Eddy Rodriguez, who allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.
The Phillies had three hits after the third, and Orioles relievers struck out 18 and didn't allow an earned run for 15 straight innings. Philadelphia pitchers retired 15 in a row after Tejada's homer, as the bullpens staged a strongman competition.
The Orioles had enough issues without losing any regulars, but they were forced to improvise in the third when Larry Bigbie sprained his ankle after reaching on a single. Hairston pinch-ran and moved to left field, and the Phillies went ahead in the bottom half, two batters after his error.
Mora pulled up while trying to beat out a ground ball in the ninth inning and was replaced by Luis Lopez, who flied out with the bases loaded to end the 12th after Geoff Geary hit Javy Lopez in the batting helmet with a fastball.
In his previous start, Riley was shutting out the Atlanta Braves through six innings before allowing a run in the seventh. He came out with a 7-1 lead, but the Braves rallied to win, 8-7.
The outcome left Riley in shock and without a victory since April 16. He's still waiting even though the Orioles scored five runs in the first against Phillies starter Brett Myers to seemingly put him in control.
"I was mad at everything," Riley said. "It was my fault. It was the most frustrating outing of my life. Disgusting."
Palmeiro began the scoring with a two-run single, as six straight batters reached after Brian Roberts grounded out. Bigbie also had a two-run single, and a grounder by Luis Matos increased the lead to 5-0.
The two RBIs allowed Palmeiro to tie Honus Wagner for 16th place on the all-time list with 1,733.
Myers needed 38 pitches to complete the inning, but he was economical compared to Riley, who threw 49 before Mazzilli had seen enough.
With the bird safely wrapped in a towel by one of the Phillies' employees, Jimmy Rollins led off with a single and Placido Polanco followed with a fly ball that cleared David Newhan's head in right field. Polanco stopped at first to put runners on the corners, and they both scored on a double by Abreu.
Riley bounced a two-strike pitch to Thome, and the ball rolled to the Phillies' dugout before Lopez could retrieve it. Third base umpire Dave Aschwege ruled on appeal that Thome swung at it, bringing an argument from Phillies manager Larry Bowa.
After Pat Burrell walked, Tejada fielded a soft liner from David Bell and took a few steps toward second before throwing to first. Bell got there safely, but Palmeiro's return throw to second cut down Burrell for a 6-3-6 put-out.
The Phillies loaded the bases before Riley retired Myers on a grounder on his 41st pitch.
A walk to Rollins and single by Polanco ended Riley's night and left him fuming. He carried his cap all the way to the dugout while shaking his head. The slight grin on his face shouldn't have been mistaken for joy.
Philadelphia moved ahead 6-5 in the third on an infield hit by Rollins with two outs that scored Mike Lieberthal. Roberts backhanded the ball near second base, but his off-balance throw to first pulled Palmeiro off the bag.
Naturally, Rollins was picked off to end the inning.
Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies
Site: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Erik Bedard (3-2, 3.69) vs. Phillies' Kevin Millwood (6-5, 4.93)