BALTIMORE (AP) -- Having already erased a four-run deficit, the
Baltimore Orioles came tantalizingly close to taking the lead in
the eighth inning.
Given the same opportunity in the ninth, the Seattle Mariners
cashed in. Desi Relaford scored the tiebreaking run on a double by Jeff
Cirillo, giving the Mariners a 5-4 victory Thursday night. Seattle went up 4-0 in the second inning against Scott Erickson,
but Baltimore used home runs by Jeff Conine and Brook Fordyce to
draw even. The Mariners then earned their 18th win in 20 games against the
Orioles by scoring a run in the ninth off Jorge Julio (2-3).
Relaford led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice bunt and
stole third before Cirillo lined a double to left. ''We can beat you with the long ball, we can beat you with the
stolen base, we can beat you with strong pitching,'' Relaford said.
''Tonight we did the little things in the last inning to win.'' The Orioles failed to convert a similar opportunity a
half-inning earlier, and it cost them. With the score 4-all, Brian Roberts opened the Baltimore eighth
with double and took third on a sacrifice. But Shigetoshi Hasegawa
struck out Tony Batista and Arthur Rhodes (3-1) retired Jay Gibbons
on a grounder. ''They executed in the ninth and we didn't. That's the story of
the game,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. ''We just didn't
put the ball in play when we should have.'' But Cirillo did, hitting a hanging slider on a 3-1 pitch.
''I've run into a pretty good slump here, but I was relaxed,''
said Cirillo, who was hitless in 17 at-bats before the ninth. ''I
hadn't had any good at-bats in a week. It feels good to come
through in a situation where you get the big hit.'' After the Mariners took the lead, Kazuhiro Sasaki worked a
perfect ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances. Down 4-0, the Orioles got an unearned run in the fourth when
Gibbons hit into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded. Baltimore chased Seattle starter Rafael Soriano in the sixth,
when Gary Matthews Jr. doubled and Conine followed with his eighth
homer -- the third in two games -- to make it 4-3. Soriano allowed three hits and two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings.
The rookie right-hander was in position to earn his first major
league victory until Fordyce tied it in the seventh with a solo
homer off Hasegawa. It was the first time 12 games that the Seattle bullpen allowed
a run. The Orioles rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Oakland on
Wednesday, but this time Baltimore failed to finish off the
comeback. ''We gave it our best shot in the eighth and it just didn't
work,'' Hargrove said. ''Cirillo, on the other hand, worked the
count to 3-1 in the ninth and hit a hanging slider. Those things
happen. They're never fun when they happen, but they do happen.'' Carlos Guillen hit a two-out single off Erickson in the first,
walked John Olerud and gave up an RBI single to Chris Snelling. Seattle went up 4-0 in the second inning. A walk, a single by
Dan Wilson and an error by Erickson loaded the bases for Ichiro
Suzuki, who singled in a run. Mark McLemore then hit a run-scoring
grounder and Guillen followed with a sacrifice fly.
Orioles CF Chris Singleton left the game in the third
inning due to heat exhaustion. He was replaced by Matthews, who
played a key role in the comeback. ... Seattle's bullpen had not
allowed a run since May 14. ... Seattle 2B Bret Boone did not
start, in part because he's 1-for-6 lifetime against Erickson. He
struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth. ... Erickson went 0-3
with three no-decisions in May. ... Sasaki has not allowed a run in
20 appearances this season.