Anthony Telford decided yesterday to quit nibbling and start gorging.
His bullpen helpers cleaned up the plate after he departed, and as a result, the Baltimore Orioles devoured California's slumping hitters again.
With a 3-1 victory at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles completed their first series sweep in almost two months and flashed signs that third place in the American League East may be a reachable goal after all.
Telford had no command whatsoever in his previous outing, lasting only two innings, walking four batters and allowing five hits and three runs to the Seattle Mariners. Of the 15 men he faced, 10 reached base.
It was easily his poorest performance in his first four major-league starts.
"After I left the park, I left that one behind me," said Telford, who went 6 1/3 innings yesterday and permitted one run. "I knew the next outing could be just as bad if I let it bother me."
It wasn't. A talk with pitching coach Al Jackson taught him that his equipment was good enough to challenge hitters, not just tantalize them.
"We discussed some things on the side the other day and came to the conclusion that if I got hit around or not, I would quit nibbling on the corners and throw the ball for strikes," said Telford.
"Then, if I got hit, I at least got hit throwing strikes and not getting behind. I tried to get more of the middle of the plate and get ahead of them."
He did that often enough to prompt manager Frank Robinson to call this his sharpest effort.
"He got the ball over and got them out," said Robinson. "It was a good job."
The Angels reached him for three doubles, including the one by Pete Coachman that knocked Telford out of the game, but managed to score only via an infield grounder.
Baltimore's bullpen committee completed the chore by retiring the final eight batters in order, Gregg Olson pitching the ninth to register his 30th save and first since Aug. 21.
"It was important to get him out there," Robinson said of Olson. "He looked like his old self, throwing the ball well. I would say he's back in the groove."
Telford said a number of family members and friends were in the crowd of 30,066, so "I wanted to perform well. Now, there is good reason for the clubhouse to be a lot lighter. We're picking up the tempo."
Robinson was being a little more restrained about the turnaround from six straight losses.
"I'll let you know 10 days from now," he said. "You don't go out and shout from the rooftops that we're all right now. We'll take a look again next week."
The Orioles offense was resourceful against Kirk McCaskill, who went the distance in a hard-luck effort.
McCaskill extended his string of scoreless innings to 18 before the Orioles scored in the second despite getting their fourth runner in nine innings (Bill Ripken) thrown out at the plate.
Ripken singled in the first run, then tried to score behind David Segui after Pete Coachman booted Steve Finley's grounder into short center field.
The Orioles added their third run the next inning on a double by Cal Ripken and a looping single to center by Sam Horn, his fourth of five hits during the two games he played in the series.
It wasn't reminiscent of the 1927 New York Yankees, but it was sufficient the way Telford and company were pitching.
The three-game winning streak pulls the fifth-place Orioles 2 1/2 games behind the third-place Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers and marks the first time the team has been on such a tear since July 23, the day after it finished a four-game wipeout of the Chicago White Sox.
Baltimore finished with a 7-5 edge against California this year, sweeping the Angels at home for the first time since 1984.
"This club has historically had problems playing here," said Angels manager Doug Rader. "But when you're struggling offensively, you have a series like this."
Telford retired 11 straight batters at one point, helped by two solid plays by third baseman Craig Worthington.
His next start will be his first on the road -- at Toronto.
"I've never been there. I don't know what to expect," he said. "But I started two-thirds of my games [with the Class A Frederick Keys and Class AA Hagerstown Suns] on the road this year. You just go out and get them."
That's what he did against the Angels. It worked wonders.