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O's Seeing Stars After Loss To Rays


It took a controversial call to help cool off the Baltimore Orioles.

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  • Smith singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday night to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory over the Orioles. However, most of the postgame talk centered on a key call that went against Baltimore.

    The Orioles thought Harold Baines' RBI double in the sixth, which tied the game 1-1, should have been ruled a homer. But the umpires said the ball hit off the top of the left-field wall.

    "We didn't need a replay in our dugout," Baltimore starter Scott Kamieniecki said. "There's no doubt in my mind (it was a homer). It's an example of an umpire not hustling out and doing his job. It's just another blown call."

    Baines' drive off Tampa Bay starter Julio Santana appeared to clear the 9½-foot wall over a leaping Quinton McCracken. However, after a brief pause, the ball bounced back onto the field.

    "It's about the fifth call that has gone against us this year. I know it's not intentional," Orioles manager Ray Miller said. "You hit a ball out of the park, it comes back and you get a double. That's the difference between a 2-1 win and a 2-1 loss."

    Even Santana thought it was a homer.

    "Sometimes, umpires don't get a good view of what happened," he said. "It happens a lot in baseball. Thank God he made that call, because I think it would have been a bad thing for the Devil Rays."

    Jim McKean, head of the umpiring crew, defended the call.

    "We did everything we possily could do to make the right call," he said. "Any time we go out there, we want to get the play right, but there are going to be times when you can't tell. With people sitting up on the fence, there should be a basket like at Wrigley Field or plexiglass along the wall. It makes it very difficult to make an accurate call."

    Baltimore, trying to overtake Boston and Anaheim in the AL wild-card race, lost for only the seventh time in 30 games since the All-Star break. The Orioles, eight games behind the Red Sox at the start of the night, had won six of seven coming in.

    Kevin Stocker reached on a fielder's choice in the ninth, stole second and scored on Smith's hit off Armando Benitez (4-3).

    "He's one of the best closers in the game," Smith said of Benitez. "When you win games like this, it's fun to be out there."

    Jim Mecir (5-2) got the win, working out of a first-and-second jam with one out in the eighth by striking out Cal Ripken and retiring B.J. Surhoff on a groundball.

    "It's a nice win. A lot of people contributed," Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild said. "But it comes down to a great at-bat for Bobby Smith. That's what hitting in those situations is all about."

    Baines tied Hal McRae for the career lead in RBI by a designated hitter at 823.

    Santana, who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his past six starts, allowed two hits in seven innings but walked a career-high six.

    Rich Butler's fourth-inning homer, his first since April 13, gave the Devil Rays a 1-0 lead. Butler was making his first start since Aug. 1 and got only his second RBI in 36 games.

    Kamieniecki allowed one run and six hits in six innings. Making his third start since coming off the disabled list, Kamieniecki had given up nine runs in 9 1-3 innings during his two previous outings.

    Baltimore failed to hit a homer for the second straight game following the end of a team-record 20-game streak.

    Notes

  • Tampa Bay has scored just eight runs in its past five games, going 2-3.
  • Baltimore outfielder Eric Davis, who has a team-record 26-game hitting streak, was given the night off.
  • Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar went 0-for-4 and had his 11-game hitting streak stopped.
  • The Devil Rays surpassed the 2-million mark in home attendance. Tampa Bay joins Colorado, Florida and Arizona as the only expansion teams to accomplish the feat during their inaugural seasons.
  • Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who had a mild heart attack last week, was released from the hospital Tuesday.
  • Willie Greene, acquired by Baltimore from Cincinnati on Monday, made his Orioles debut starting in right field and went 0-2 with two walks.

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