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Finally, on sunday

Two hours before game time, the sky darkened beyond the left-field fence of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

An omen to a team that had lost 15 consecutive Sunday games, or perhaps a silver lining in those ominous clouds that a rainout could wash away the specter of losing again?

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Judy Bisi of Dundalk held the answer as a hard rain fell about an hour before the first pitch yesterday afternoon.

"The rain is a good sign. It's good luck," she said, sitting along the first-base line as the wind blew, lightning flashed past the warehouse and thunder rumbled.

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"They always say that if it rains on the day you get married, you're going to have good luck," added Bisi's sister, Pat Hutton of Catonsville.

And maybe it was. The Orioles broke their Sunday losing streak, defeating the Los Angeles Angels, 5-2.

Some saw it as divine intervention, but the victory went to Garrett Olson, who left to a standing ovation after giving up only two runs in six innings.

In the hours leading to that sweet victory, however, there was plenty of time to explore coincidence, baseball's deep roots in superstition, some cold stats about a rebuilding Orioles team that has gained the admiration of those who follow the sport closely, and even take a stab at a possible curse.

The St. Louis Browns - the ancestors of today's National League Cardinals - set the record for consecutive Sunday losses in 1898 at 17. A later Browns team in the American League moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season and became the Orioles.

Could someone attached to the 1898 Browns have created some mini-curse to ensnare the Orioles more than a century later?

"That is kind of ironic," said Glenn Lamberson of Eldersburg.

Tim Gorman, a St. Louis resident who wore a Cardinals jersey to yesterday's game, thought about the losing streak during his family's vacation to Washington, Baltimore and Williamsburg, Va.

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"The Sunday thing has me baffled," Gorman said.

Andy Jones, 46, wore an American League St. Louis Browns hat to yesterday's game. Being from St. Louis, honoring the team that moved to Baltimore is his way of warming up to the Orioles a year after moving to North Potomac, he said.

Jones, who works in the Office of Naval Research for the Department of the Navy, also had done his research, noting that the Orioles had lost five in a row before yesterday's game and were 48-55 on the season.

"Is it a psychological thing? Maybe, I guess. Is it bad luck? Maybe it's a reflection of how the team has played on a larger scale. It just happens to be a coincidence," he said.

It also helped to have a New Englander put it into perspective.

Rick Wirling, a Boston Red Sox fan from Berwick, Maine, snapped a picture of his son, Richard, in front of the statue of Babe Ruth outside Camden Yards. It was his 4-year-old son's first Major League Baseball game.

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Relieved from the "Curse of the Bambino" that ended when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 after an 86-year drought, Wirling declared: "The Orioles are due. They have to win eventually."

Advice on curses

A fan whose favorite team is suspected of being under a curse also offered his rooting power to the Orioles yesterday.

Marc Miller, a sales representative from Goshen, Ind., is on vacation and went to the game with his 12-year-old son, Jacob.

Some say the Chicago Cubs, who last won the World Series in 1908, can't make it back because Billy Sianis put a curse on the team after it ejected him and his goat from the 1945 World Series.

"I don't believe in it. But the mind can do some weird things if you believe it," Miller said. "Baseball is probably the most superstitious sport. There are rituals about what players will eat and what they'll do with their uniforms."

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Kevin Comer, a civilian U.S. Navy employee who lives in Gaithersburg, jokingly suggested that some voodoo could be in order, sacrificing an oriole instead of a chicken - a suggestion that raised an eyebrow from his wife, Leslie.

Then again, Comer was sitting in the lobby of a hotel across the street from Oriole Park, decked out in an Angels hat and T-shirt.

"Baseball is all about streaks," he said.

At a nearby bar, Jim Ruberg was taking a longer perspective over a beer and a pizza.

Ruberg, 50, a pharmacist who lives in Hagerstown, said he has had season tickets for Sunday games for about a decade.

"It feels like they lose most Sundays," he said.

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Lucky umbrella?

Before the game, Judy Bisi had an explanation for why the Orioles would win.

"It's the first time I've been to this stadium. I brought all of my luck," she said, adding that she and her sister Pat had bought Orioles hats for the game.

She even brought her 30-year-old umbrella, emblazoned with the logos of the Orioles and Gulf Oil.

So why had the Orioles lost on 15 consecutive Sundays?

"We didn't come to any of them," said Rick Muchla, Bisi's brother.

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The Orioles jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning, added two more in the third and scored one more in the sixth as Jay Payton ran out a triple as if determined to singlehandedly drive a stake through the Sunday losing streak.

In the ninth, Orioles closer George Sherrill set the Angels down in order for the save.

It was time to straighten the bill of your cap to honor Sherrill, listen to the "Orioles Magic" song, and also give some props to Olson, who had gone into the game with a 6.11 earned run average.

And give thanks that the Sunday losing streak is over.

"I'm really psyched, because that's usually when we can make it out," said Jonah Rainey, 36, a biologist who lives in Kensington. "I like to see a win, especially against a team that is good. Olson came out and did it. He brought it today and did a great job."

As Rainey and the other fans walked out of the stadium, it began to rain again.

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Rain on Sunday, remember, is good luck.

james.drew@baltsun.com

Streak

Pregame meeting at Millar's locker, three RBIs from Quiroz power Orioles to victory. Pg 3Z



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