ATLANTA (AP) -- Knocked out of first place in the AL East for the
first time since late April, the Baltimore Orioles still talked
like front-runners Friday night.
Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones hit first-inning home runs and the
Atlanta Braves beat the Orioles 7-5. The Braves led 7-1 after three
innings before Baltimore closed the gap with homers by Larry Bigbie
and Brian Roberts.
The Orioles had been in sole possession of first place in the AL
East for 62 consecutive days since April 23. But with Boston's 8-0
win over Philadelphia on Friday night, the Red Sox moved a
half-game ahead of Baltimore.
"That's fine. That's why it's a long season," Orioles manager
Lee Mazzilli said. "Tomorrow it could flip-flop again.
"We've got to scratch right now. We've got some nicks in our
team right now. They leave everything on the field, they don't have
to come in this clubhouse and hang their heads."
Mazzilli was suspended Friday for two games and fined an
undisclosed amount for inappropriate actions in Sunday's home game
against Colorado. He will continue to manage until he has a
hearing, tentatively scheduled for early July.
The Orioles have lost eight of their last 10 road games after an
18-8 start away from Baltimore.
"Falling out of first place is something we can't worry about
right now," Bigbie said. "We're not panicking. It's no fun unless
it's a clean race."
Chris Reitsma got four outs for his sixth save in eight
chances.The Braves, who have won six of eight, moved past the
Phillies and into second place in the NL East.
Jones has six homers in the last seven days.
"There's not just one person who can carry a whole team, but if
any one person can, it's Andruw," Giles said.
Giles had two hits and drove in three runs. Jones moved into a
tie with Chicago's Derrek Lee for the NL homer lead with his 22nd.
"I'm just trying to keep swinging," Jones said. "We got
pitches to hit, and we hit them."
Atlanta's Kyle Davies (3-2) outpitched Baltimore's Hayden Penn
(2-1) in a matchup of rookies. Davies, 21, gave up eight hits and
five runs in six innings. Penn, 20, gave up eight hits and seven
runs in only two-plus innings. Each gave up two home runs.
"The good pitches I made got hit," Penn said. "The bad
pitches I made got hit harder."
The Braves jumped on Penn in the bottom of the first with three
runs on back-to-back homers by Giles, his sixth, and Jones. Giles'
two-run shot drove in Rafael Furcal, who walked.
Penn gave up three more runs on four hits in the second inning.
Wilson Betemit led off with a triple to center and scored on Ryan
Langerhans' single. Kelly Johnson drove in Langerhans with a double
and scored on Giles' single to right for a 6-1 lead.
"Seven runs in the first three innings makes it a whole lot
easier to go out there and pitch," Davies said.
Penn had the shortest of his seven starts since he was called up
from Double-A Bowie on May 26.
Davies gave up only two earned runs in his first four major
league starts, but allowed 15 runs in three games since then, and
he had difficulty protecting the 7-1 lead.
The Orioles began their comeback with Bigbie's three-run homer
in the fourth inning. It drove in Rafael Palmeiro, who just missed
a home run on a double off the center-field wall, and Chris Gomez,
Roberts led off the fifth inning with his 12th homer, cutting
the lead to 7-5.
The first-inning homers by Giles and Jones were the Braves'
fourth back-to-back homers this season. ... Attendance at Turner
Field was 43,822, the largest crowd since 50,939 for the Braves'
April 8 home opener. ... This is the eighth straight year the teams