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Mora hits key homer, drives in five runs

6/10/2002

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Melvin Mora, the designated hitter for only the
second time this season, decided to abandon his usual role as a
slap-hitting leadoff batter.

Mora hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and
drove in a career-high five runs as the Baltimore Orioles beat the
San Diego Padres 8-6 Monday night.

Mora hit a three-run double in the second inning -- barely
missing a grand slam -- and connected off Jeremy Fikac (3-5) with
two outs in the eighth.

He started his night with a groundout, then doubled off the top
of the wall in center, drew a walk, struck out and drove a 1-0
pitch from Fikac deep in the seats in left-center.

"The first at-bat I was just trying to get a base hit, and
that's not my game. I have to swing hard, and whatever happens,
happens,'' Mora said. "If I crush it, I crush it. I was lucky to
get that home run.''

Mora had only five homers in the Orioles' first 57 games, but
has hit three in his last four starts.

"Melvin is a streaky hitter,'' Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove
said. "If Melvin gets the ball up in the zone and out over the
plate, he can hit it a long way. He's not going to hit 35 home runs
a year, but if you make a mistake and Melvin gets the good part of
the bat on the ball, it's got a chance to go out.''

That's precisely what happened in the eighth inning, as Fikac
threw a changeup that he wished he could have back.

"I probably shouldn't have gone in on Mora,'' the right-hander
said. "I was trying to set him up and go back out with my slider.
There's no doubt in my mind I would've gotten him out. The changeup
just got away from me.''

Buddy Groom (2-1) relieved in the eighth to stem a San Diego
rally, and Jorge Julio got two outs for his 12th save in 16 tries.

Bubba Trammell and Ryan Klesko homered for the Padres, who have
lost nine of 11. Mark Kotsay went 0-for-5, ending his hitting
streak at a career-high 16 games.

San Diego pitchers issued eight walks, hit one batter and threw
three wild pitches.

"When you go with younger players, they're going to make
mistakes,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

Down 6-4, the Padres got a solo homer from Klesko in the
seventh, then tied it with an unearned run in the eighth. After
Trammell drew a leadoff walk, pinch-runner Trenidad Hubbard scored
on an error by third baseman Tony Batista.

That robbed Orioles starter Scott Erickson of a shot at his
first victory in eight starts since April 28. The right-hander gave
up four runs, seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings but left
with a 6-4 lead.

"I thought he did a real good job battling as far as he did,''
Hargrove said.

Like Erickson, Fikac has struggled since April, going 0-5 with a
7.53 earned-run average.

"It's a part of my career that's going to make me better,
hopefully, for years to come,'' he said.

San Diego took a 3-0 lead in the second. After Wiki Gonzalez and
Ramon Vazquez hit RBI singles, Julius Matos drove in a run with a
fielder's choice.

Baltimore tied it in the bottom half, using two walks and a
single to load the bases with two outs before Mora's double.

Trammell's seventh homer put the Padres up 4-3 in the fourth,
but the Orioles went ahead in the bottom half. Batista hit a bloop
double and scored on a wild pitch by Dennis Tankersley before Mike
Bordick singled in Marty Cordova, who reached on a walk.

Tankersley allowed five runs, four hits and five walks in 3 1/3
innings. He labored through 79 pitches, only 42 of which were
strikes.

Baltimore made it 6-4 in the fifth. Jay Gibbons drew a walk from
Jason Middlebrook, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single
by Cordova.

Erickson issued a pair of one-out walks in the sixth and was
replaced by Willis Roberts, who walked Gonzalez to load the bases
before striking out Vazquez and Matos.

"We didn't take advantage of the sixth inning,'' Bochy said.
"Bases loaded, one out, and they got out of it.''

Game notes
The crowd of 30,075 put the Orioles over 1 million, giving
them 1,010,109 for 31 dates. ... Erickson is 0-4 with a 6.55 ERA in
his last eight starts after going 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA in April. ...
The Padres fell to 38-40 in interleague play, including 17-24 on
the road.