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Friday, May 22, 1998

Rangers again sink Mariners' bullpen

ARLINGTON, Texas, May 22 (AP) -- Seattle Mariners manager
Lou Piniella held his frustration inside after his bullpen
failed him for the 10th time this season.

By now, Piniella is shell-shocked. His bullpen has more
blown saves than successful saves.

The Texas Rangers rallied for three runs in the ninth to win
9-8 Thursday night against closer Bobby Ayala on a night
that saw a fan running on the field to argue with an umpire
and a winning pitcher who didn't retire a batter.

``We come in here and lose three games and we should have
been 2-1,'' said a glum Piniella, puffing on a cigarette
outside the Seattle clubhouse. ``They hit us, no matter who
we sent out there. Ayala had good success against this

The fan, John Miller of Frisco, Texas, tried to enter an
argument started by Rangers manager Johnny Oates in the
eighth inning. Miller was arrested on a charge of criminal

Oates was involved in an animated argument with third base
umpire Brian O'Nora over a call on a stolen base in the top
of the ninth when Miller came out of the third-base stands
to join the discussion. The man was promptly escorted away
by security and was later arrested. Oates was ejected by

The argument proved to be immaterial when Ayala (0-3) gave
up three runs in the bottom of the inning as Seattle blew
its second lead in two nights.

The Mariners' 10th blown save of the season overshadowed Ken
Griffey's 17th homer, one shy of teammate Alex Rodriguez's
AL lead. Griffey also tripled and doubled as Seattle opened
a 7-2 lead.

The Rangers rallied from a six-run deficit Wednesday night
against the Mariners bullpen and pulled out an 8-7 victory.

Texas completed a three-game series sweep of Seattle. The
Rangers' last sweeo of the Mariners was from April 6-9,
1992, in a four-game series.

Griffey refused to rip his team's bullpen, saying, ``You
know me. I don't say anything bad. When we have a team
meeting, I just listen.''

Juan Gonzalez homered, doubled and drove in three runs,
giving him a major league-leading 54 RBIs for the Rangers.

``It was a great comeback last night and a great comeback
tonight,'' Gonzalez said. ``It's awesome. You see everything
in baseball. We never quit. It was a great moment for this

Scott Bailes (1-0) got the win without retiring a batter.
After throwing two pitches to Rob Ducey, Bailes picked Russ
Davis off first base to end the top of the ninth.

The Mariners scored what looked to be an insurance run in
the inning to make it 8-6. Glenallen Hill hit his third
double of the game, pinch-runner Rich Amaral stole third,
prompting the argument from Oates and the fan, and scored on
Davis' single.

In the bottom of the inning, Domingo Cedeno hit a one-out
double and scored on Rusty Greer's triple off the left-field
scoreboard. Gonzalez doubled Greer home, tying the score.

One out later, Ayala intentionally walked Ivan Rodriguez,
setting up Luis Alicea's game-winning single to
right-center. Alicea entered the game as a pinch-hitter in
the eighth and singled in a run.

``The game was already tied, so there was no pressure on
me,'' Alicea said. ``We just won't quit.''

Oates said the back-to-back comeback victories against a
team that has been Texas' nemesis over the last five years
boosts his team's confidence.

``It's exciting,'' Oates said. ``You see the confidence
building and you never think you're out of a ball game. I
don't want to change the ending of the script, but I'd like
to change the beginning.''

Griffey's towering 425-foot blast to right in the fourth was
his ninth at The Ballpark in Arlington, tying him with Jose
Canseco for the most by a visiting player.
Notes: Texas has won six of seven against Seattle. ...
Second baseman Mark McLemore was a late scratch from the
Rangers starting lineup with a sprained right foot. He was
replaced by Cedeno. ... Greer's third-inning single snapped
an 0-for-18 hitless streak. ... In the first inning,
Rodriguez went to the rail behind home plate for a popup
that landed in the stands. As he turned to go back behind
the plate, Rodriguez playfully helped himself to a nacho
chip from a fan's container and ate the chip as he walked
back to his position. ...Alex Rodriguez has 12 RBIs in his
last six games.

Jazz hope third game woes over

INGLEWOOD, Calif., May 22 (AP) -- Just when everything was
going so well for Utah against the Los Angeles Lakers, they
had to go to California for tonight's Game 3.

``We've never played well in Game 3s,'' Karl Malone said,
``even when we were 1-1 with Houston. We've got motivation
to play well in Game 3 now.''

Something about a Game 3 seems to bring out the worst in
that otherwise methodical, experienced, efficient squad from
Salt Lake City. The Lakers, down 2-0 in the best-of-7
series, can look to recent history for a reason to believe
their fortunes are about to turn.

In the first round this season against Houston, the Jazz
lost Game 3 to the Rockets 89-85, and Utah had to scramble
back from the brink of elimination to win the series. Then
came the nightmare at the Alamodome, when San Antonio routed
the Jazz 86-64 in, you guessed it, Game 3.

After playing at home in front of fanatical fans for the
first two games in a series, maybe the team's concentration
lapses in the first road game. After all, Utah came back to
win Game 4, on the road, in both series.

Don't expect a discourse from Utah coach Jerry Sloan on the
reasons for the Game 3 woes.

``I think the more you talk about a thing like that, the
less it helps,'' he said.

Just about everyone involved in the series is fed up with
talking after a four-day gap between Game 2 and 3.

``More than anything, we're very, very anxious to play,''
the Lakers' Kobe Bryant said. ``It seems the more you talk
about it, the slower the next game is coming up.''

In Los Angeles, where critics abound, Lakers coach Del
Harris has heard plenty of talking about how he's to blame,
that he ought to shake up the lineup, that his team isn't
countering Utah's tactics with some innovations of its own.

``We've lost two and everybody's ready to fire me again,''
Harris said. ``What we don't need to do is reinvent a new
way to play. There are 27 teams watching us play. We really
don't need to be in a panic situation.''

Over and over again, Harris was asked about the possibility
of changing the lineup, specifically by putting Nick Van
Exel back at starting point guard.

``Why would I change the lineup?'' Harris said, obviously
irritated. ``Why would I put in a new offense? The best
thing to do in a pressure situation is do what you know how
to do.''

Bryant agreed.

``Just because you've lost two games is no reason to shake
up the lineup,'' he said.

The biggest need, the Lakers say, is to play better defense
against a Jazz team that has dissected Los Angeles with a
pick-and-roll defense that every L.A. player knows is coming
but none can stop.

``Right now, what we need most is defense,'' Bryant said.
``I think everybody on this team feels the same way. When we
come out and we're aggressive defensively, that's when we
get the easy buckets. Once we get rolling defensively, then
we get rolling offensively.''

That happens more often for the Lakers at home, where they
are 4-0 in the playoffs.

``For some reason, we're way more aggressive defensively
here than we are on the road,'' Bryant said.

The Lakers' Eddie Jones said more pressure would make life
tougher for Utah's John Stockton.

``Stockton is the creator of that offense,'' Jones said.
``The more you keep the ball out of his hands, the more they
struggle. Just try to deny him the ball and press and make
him give the ball up.''

In Utah, the Jazz went through a workout Thursday before
flying to Los Angeles. But not before some talk got things
swirling in Salt Lake City.

A little off-the-cuff talking by Malone on a national radio
talk show already has stirred up the ever-faithful,
often-paranoid Utah fans.

Malone, appearing with Portland coach Mike Dunleavy,
mentioned that he loved the rain and that Oregon was one of
his favorite places, that he wouldn't mind playing there.

It set off the usual panic in Salt Lake City, with fans in
horror at the thought of losing their Karl.

Malone said his teammates and Sloan kidded him about it, and
he assured the Utah fans that he wasn't planning on going

``Talk to anybody, and you'll see it's no big deal,'' Malone
said. ``It's just Karl saying what's on his mind.''

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