When Brian Burres and Ian Kennedy opposed each other five days earlier at Yankee Stadium, the result was a tense pitching duel. Their rematch last night morphed into a glorified round of batting practice.
On a warm night at Camden Yards, balls flew out of the ballpark at a frantic pace, with the Orioles and New York Yankees combining for nine home runs by the end of the fifth inning. The game's resolution, however, would have to wait until much later.
After a rain delay in the ninth inning that lasted more than an hour, and after the Yankees had taken the lead with a run in the top of the 11th inning, Aubrey Huff tied the game with a double off LaTroy Hawkins, and then Alex Cintron hit a bases-loaded single, sending the Orioles to a dramatic 10-9 victory before what remained of an announced 24,030.
The Orioles (26-25), who twice erased four-run deficits, will go for the series sweep tonight.
With Mariano Rivera having already pitched two innings, Hawkins (1-1), a former Oriole, came on to start the 11th and gave up a leadoff single to Melvin Mora. After Nick Markakis flied out to the warning track in left field, Huff slammed a ball into the left-center-field gap, easily scoring Mora. Huff moved to third on the throw home.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi then called for intentional walks of Kevin Millar and Luke Scott to bring up Cintron, who had entered the game an inning earlier as a pinch runner. Cintron drove Hawkins' first pitch over Bobby Abreu's head in right field.
"That's why you've got to be ready all the time," Cintron said. "When Huff got to third base, I knew they were going to pitch to me. I was just thinking, 'If I see the ball, hit it.' "
Said Orioles manager Dave Trembley: "That was incredible. This is the best game I've ever been a part of to win. I'll replay it for a long time."
Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the late innings.
In the top of the ninth, Johnny Damon hit a leadoff double off Orioles closer George Sherrill. He was stranded when Hideki Matsui, batting with the rain falling hard, lined out to Millar to end the inning.
With Yankees on first and second and two outs in the sixth and Alex Rodriguez at the plate Dennis Sarfate came on and got out of the jam without throwing a pitch, picking off Derek Jeter at second base.
In the seventh, Millar was thrown out at home by Abreu as he tried to score on Ramon Hernandez's two-out single to right field. The Orioles also had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth inning, but Mora hit into a double play.
The missed opportunities created quite a contrast in a game that earlier was defined by both starters' inability to keep the ball in the park.
In 3 2/3 innings - his shortest start of the season - Burres allowed eight earned runs, tying his career high set in last season's 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers. All but one of the runs against him last night scored on home runs, as Burres gave up a career-high four. He had allowed only three in his previous nine starts this season.
Kennedy, presented a 4-0 lead in the second inning after homers by Jason Giambi and Damon, couldn't hold the advantage for a half inning. He allowed four runs (three earned) in the bottom of the inning, three coming on back-to-back homers from Millar and Hernandez. Millar's two-run blast was the 150th of his career.
In the fifth inning, it was Yankees right-hander Ross Ohlendorf's turn to cough up a four-run advantage. Mora hit a two-run blast that landed in the visitors' bullpen, Scott then pulled the Orioles even closer with a two-out solo homer and Millar, the next hitter, tied the game at 8 with his second homer of the night.
The Orioles hadn't hit back-to-back homers since August, but they did it twice last night in a four-inning span.
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