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Mesa breaks club mark with 104th save with Phils

6/29/2003 - Jose Mesa

BALTIMORE (AP) -- To celebrate his stature as the new career
saves leader of the Philadelphia Phillies, Jose Mesa received
treatment on his right arm, took a long shower and then steadfastly
refused to talk about himself.

It's the same routine he follows on those rare occasions when he
lets a lead slip away. In other words, it was just another day in
the life of a guy who's been pitching in professional baseball for
more than 20 years.

Mesa cemented a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday
to cap a three-game sweep for the Phillies, whose winning streak
reached a season-high five games.

Mesa got the final three outs for his 17th save of the season
and 104th with Philadelphia since joining the team in November
2000. He broke the club mark held by Steve Bedrosian, who had 103
saves from 1986-89.

It was the fourth straight game in which Mesa pitched, and the
fourth in a row in which he failed to allow a run.

"He's a horse. He takes a lot of abuse in Philadelphia, but he
takes the ball everyday," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.
"Yeah, he's going to blow some saves. Everybody does. It's his
third year here with me, and I have no complaints about him."

It was the first save since June 9 for Mesa, who has more career
saves against the Orioles (23) than any other team. The
right-hander started his career in Baltimore in 1987.

"When he goes out there everybody feels the game is over and
he's going to get the job done," said Jim Thome, who homered for
the Phillies.

Placido Polanco had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run to
help Philadelphia move 10 games over .500 (44-34) for the first
time since the end of the 2001 season.

Kevin Millwood (9-6) allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 2-3
innings to snap a three-game skid. He struck out two and walked
none in improving to 6-1 in day games.

"Maybe I'm more of a morning person than other guys," he said.
"I enjoy pitching during the day."

The Phillies concluded interleague play 8-6; the Orioles were
5-13.

Baltimore played well against Philadelphia, but had nothing to
show for it. The Orioles lost in 17 innings on Friday and fell 9-5
on Saturday before losing a squeaker Sunday.

"The thing of it is, we played good baseball," manager Mike
Hargrove said. "The Phillies are a good ballclub. We don't have
anything to be ashamed of."

Orioles starter Rick Helling (5-6) gave up four runs, seven hits
and four walks in six innings.

"He struggled with his command to varying degrees, but kept us
in the game," Hargrove said.

Helling was replaced by Hector Carrasco, whose contract was
purchased from Triple-A Ottawa before the game. Making his first
appearance in the majors since 2001, Carrasco pitched 2 2-3 hitless
innings before Buddy Groom struck out Thome with the bases loaded
in the ninth.

Millwood gave up hits to the first two batters he faced, then
retired 17 straight before Luis Matos hit a two-out single in the
sixth with Baltimore trailing 4-1.

B.J. Surhoff followed with a single to right before Jeff Conine
and Jay Gibbons delivered RBI singles to bring the Orioles within a
run, but Millwood avoided further damage by striking out Tony
Batista.

Deivi Cruz singled and stole second with two outs in the seventh
before Millwood retired Brian Roberts on a popup.

Thome got the Phillies started in the first inning with his
second homer in two games, a solo shot inside the right-field foul
pole.

Baltimore tied it in the bottom half when Roberts hit a leadoff
triple and scored on a single by Matos. That turned out to be the
Orioles' lone salvo against Millwood until the sixth.

Philadelphia took the lead for good with a two-run third. Todd
Pratt led off with a single and scored on a double by Polanco, who
came home on a double by Jimmy Rollins.

In the fifth, Polanco singled, stole second and scored on an
infield hit by Bobby Abreu.

Game notes
Mesa has 242 career saves. ... Baltimore OF Melvin Mora,
the AL's leading hitter, was a late scratch because of soreness in
his right hand. ... Carrasco replaced RHP Willis Roberts, who was
put on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ligament in his
right elbow. ... Thome has 10 straight 20-homer seasons and 11
overall. ... Brian Roberts has started five straight games with
hits. ... The three-game series drew 140,677 fans, including 44,723
on Sunday. ... Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley was ejected in the
fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes.