If Pete Harnisch could see it happening all over again, he wasn't going to admit it. He had watched a strong performance go to waste in Toronto last week when Curt Schilling gave up a three-run home run in the ninth inning. Now another victory was on the line and Gregg Olson was struggling in the ninth.
"I was never worried," said Harnisch, who was watching the final inning on a video monitor in the clubhouse.
The Milwaukee Brewers threatened to make up a four-run deficit, but Olson restored order just in time and the Baltimore Orioles held on for a 5-3 victory on Fireworks Night at Memorial Stadium Friday night.
Harnisch, who had given up just a run on five hits over seven innings, watched Jeff Ballard give up a leadoff home run to outfielder Greg Vaughn in the ninth. Olson came on to give up back-to-back singles and bring the tying run to the plate with no one out.
Manager Frank Robinson visited the mound for a quick strategy session at that point. Olson went 2-0 to Bill Spiers before giving up a sacrifice fly, then got the next two batters and recorded his 33rd save of the year.
"I knew he was going to do the job," Harnisch said. "He got out of it. He started to throw that nasty curveball. I wasn't worried."
Robinson said that he wasn't worried either. He said he went to the mound to remind Olson to mix up his pitches more, not to check on his tiring right arm.
"He never makes it easy," Robinson said. "He always looks like he's struggling. That's not what I look at. I look at his stuff."
Harnisch didn't struggle, though he also has been a victim of late-season fatigue. He worked a solid seven innings before giving up back-to-back singles in the eighth and giving way to a short parade of Orioles relievers.
He could thank the Brewers for providing the margin of victory with three unearned runs in a very strange fifth inning.
How strange was it? It was so strange that there were three plays at the plate and a double play that went into the score book 8-2-5-4-6. It was so strange that when that funny-looking double play ended the inning, Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn charged out of the dugout and motioned for his players to remain at their positions until the thing could be sorted out and a futile appeal attempted.
The three runs all were the result of two errors that occurred on the same play. Paul Molitor's throwing error on a possible double-play ball allowed one run to score and catcher B.J. Surhoff dropped a perfect throw to the plate to allow another. The final run of the inning scored on the sacrifice fly that initiated the run-scoring, inning-ending double play.
The Brewers couldn't get Steve Finley tagging up, but Surhoff relayed the ball to third to hang up Brady Anderson on the bases. Trebelhorn's appeal, contending that Finley missed third base, was denied and an argument ensued, which the Brewers also lost.
It was that kind of night for the Brewers, who made the least of a number of scoring opportunities on the way to their fourth straight loss.
"We turned a two-run rally into a one-run rally [in the second]," Trebelhorn said. "We didn't score when we should have and gave up some when we shouldn't and that was the story of the game."
The Orioles spent the past week making their presence known in the American League East race, though not always for the better. They lost three of four in Toronto to give the Blue Jays a boost in the standings, then came home and dropped the Boston Red Sox out of first place.
How could a series with the fifth-place Brewers be anything but a letdown?
But there was something to play for. The Orioles entered the series just 1 1/2 games out of fifth place and 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Cleveland Indians. Call it a respectability series.