ORIOLES CAST SPELL ON ANGELS BATISTA HITS GAME-WINNING HOMER BALTIMORE 6, ANGELS 5.
BALTIMORE - Line the Baltimore Orioles up against any other team in the big leagues, and they're perfectly nondescript.
But when the Orioles take the field against the Angels, magical things tend to happen.
Grand slams and dramatic, game-winning home runs become routine. And line drives for the Angels that could be go-ahead home runs or game-tying singles instead scrape the top of the wall or find a pitcher's glove.
Friday night, the Orioles got all of the above and then some. They built a five-run lead, gave it all back and then went ahead for good on Tony Batista's second home run of the night, a solo shot off Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the eighth inning that provided a 6-5 victory over the Angels at Camden Yards.
Batista got the party started early, hitting a first-pitch fastball from Jarrod Washburn for a grand slam in the first inning. Batista entered the game on an 0-for-14 skid, but broke it by hitting the Orioles' third grand slam this season against the Angels, a phenomenon that began when Brian Roberts hit a game-winner off closer Troy Percival on May 22.
Friday, the Angels (49-45) erased a 5-0 deficit and appeared poised to turn the tables. Instead, they lost for the sixth time in seven games against Baltimore (43-50) and fell to fourth place, behind Toronto, in the wild-card standings.
The Angels are winless in four games at Camden Yards, with Baltimore stalwarts Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson scheduled to pitch the final two games of this series.
``I put us in a hole,'' Washburn said. ``To the guys' credit, they came back.''
Only to be deflated again.
Batista's slam and Rick Helling's highly effective curveball seemed to bury the Angels, and they still trailed 5-0 into the seventh. Garret Anderson broke the spell with a home run and Jeff DaVanon doubled, chasing Helling, and scored on a throwing error to make it 5-2.
They tied it in the eighth when Anderson ripped a two-run double to center - giving him 10 RBI in six games - and Molina scored Anderson with a double of his own.
Molina's ball hit the top of the wall, and initially appeared to hit the back wall behind the fence for a go-ahead home run. Molina and manager Mike Scioscia argued in vain and replays indicated the call was correct.
``That was about as close to a home run that you could come,'' Scioscia said.
Then, with the go-ahead run on second, Chone Figgins lined a ball right at reliever B.J. Ryan, who speared the ball for the final out of the eighth.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, had been dominant in retiring the first five Orioles he faced. In the eighth, he had just struck out Jay Gibbons on a nasty slider when Batista came up and quickly fell in an 0-2 hole.
But Rodriguez badly misplaced an 0-2 fastball and Batista poked it into the stands in left for the game winner.
Jorge Julio struck out Tim Salmon with the tying run on second in the ninth for his 20th save.
``It's our job to fight until they tell us not to anymore,'' said first baseman Scott Spiezio, who continued his resurgence with three hits. ``We came back, gave it a shot, it didn't happen.''