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Cust tagged out before scoring tying run

8/17/2003

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Jack Cust provided an appropriate ending to an
extraordinary game.

The Baltimore Orioles' rookie had already fallen once rounding
third base, and was in the midst of a rundown when he suddenly
realized there was no one covering the plate.

All Cust had to do was outrun New York third baseman Aaron Boone
the final 10 feet to create a 12th-inning tie. But Cust tripped
again and was tagged for the final out in the Yankees' 5-4 victory
Saturday night.

"He had a free trip to home, and he tripped and fell," Orioles
manager Mike Hargrove said. "Those things happen."

Not very often, though.

"It was bizarre, certainly," Boone said.

"We lucked out," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I don't
even want to see a replay. I'd just as soon go home, go to sleep
and wake up tomorrow."

Jason Giambi hit his 35th homer with two outs in the top of the
12th as the Yankees dealt Baltimore its sixth straight loss.

Jeff Nelson walked Cust with two outs in the 12th before Larry
Bigbie doubled to right-center. Cust tried to stop as he rounded
third, but slipped to the ground.

"I tried to plant, but my feet just gave out," Cust said.
"It's the grass. It's just soft."

Second baseman Alfonso Soriano made a low relay throw to third,
and Cust was caught in a rundown. As he saw the clear path to the
plate and tried to get into high gear, he stumbled facefirst to the
ground and was easily tagged out.

Seldom-used John Flaherty hit two home runs for the Yankees, who
survived three Baltimore homers and a rare mistake by Torre, who
failed to notice that the Orioles batted out of order while scoring
a first-inning run.

Because he didn't point out the miscue, the run counted.

"I told the players, `Thanks for bailing me out. You saved my
bacon, guys," Torre said.

Giambi was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts before sending a 1-0
pitch from Hector Carrasco (1-4) far over the center-field wall.

Chris Hammond (3-1) pitched two innings and Nelson got three
outs for his eighth save -- his first with the Yankees since
arriving on Aug. 6 in a trade with Seattle.

Luis Matos tied the game in the ninth with a leadoff homer
against Mariano Rivera, who faltered for his sixth blown save. Jose
Morban and Brook Fordyce also homered for the Orioles.

Baltimore's six-game skid matches a season high. Five of the
losses have been by one or two runs, and Baltimore held the lead in
all but one of the games.

This one hurt the most.

"I never saw one like that," Hargrove said. "We just haven't
caught a break during this stretch."

Actually, the Orioles were lucky to get away with a huge mistake
in the first inning.

Baltimore went up 1-0 on a sacrifice fly by Tony Batista, who
was listed fifth on the lineup card but batted in the cleanup spot
instead of Jay Gibbons.

"I always check the lineup card with the one on the wall, and
over the last few years we've caught a couple," Torre said. "But
we never registered because the person never got a hit. ... It was
the most miserable game I've ever been through."

Derek Jeter got his 1,500th career hit and Boone had two hits
for the Yankees.

Flaherty, a backup catcher, entered with two home runs in 27
games. It was his sixth career two-homer game, the first since
1999.

With the score tied at 3 in the eighth, Giambi doubled off John
Parrish and Hideki Matsui grounded a two-out single to right for
his 87th RBI, tops among all major league rookies.

But Matos tied it in the ninth with his 10th homer.

"We battled, but we just couldn't close the deal," Hargrove
said.

Morban put Baltimore up 2-1 in the third with his second home
run, a drive that barely cleared the left-field wall. Fordyce hit
his fifth homer, the third in eight games, to make it 3-1 in the
fourth.

Flaherty led off the fifth with a shot to left, the 17th home
run allowed by Orioles starter Pat Hentgen in 21 games this year.

Game notes
Fordyce has one less homer than in the previous two seasons
combined. ... New York improved the majors' best road record to
41-23. ... Soriano went 0-for-6 and is 2-for-17 in the series.