Lady Luck finally joined Jose Mesa last night after jilting Randy Johnson.
Mesa, a victim of 2-0 and 1-0 defeats, pitched through constant ** trouble and Johnson's no-hit bid for a 2-1 Orioles victory at Memorial Stadium that broke Baltimore's seven-game losing streak to the Mariners.
Talk about the breaks starting to even out.
Johnson, who pitched the first no-hitter in Mariners history June 2, was on his game through 5 2/3 hitless innings while protecting a 1-0 lead.
But his wildness, a two-hopper by Bob Melvin that turned into a single, the Orioles' first hit of the game and an appeal that denied a tying run to the Mariners combined to change the complexion of the game.
Johnson, the tallest player in the major leagues, faced only 16 Orioles, one above the minimum, through five innings. The Orioles had three runners -- all on walks -- but two of them were erased, one on a foiled hit-and-run, the other on a double play.
But the sixth inning was a disaster for Johnson, whose most recent shutout victory was over the Orioles, Aug. 15.
Walks to Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux around a sacrifice by Bill Ripken put two runners on with one out. Johnson struck out Randy Milligan, but Cal Ripken walked, loading the bases.
Then came a terrific at-bat by Dwight Evans, who persevered through a 3-2 count, two foul balls and a Mariners appeal for a third strike that was denied by umpire Larry Barnett to coax a fourth walk that tied the game at 1.
That brought up Bob Melvin, who entered the game with a .533 lifetime average against Johnson.
Melvin didn't exactly cream the ball, squibbing a two-hopper to third baseman Edgar Martinez, who charged and fielded the ball cleanly but then threw wide of first, drawing Pete O'Brien off the bag as Devereaux scored what proved to be the winning run.
"I was looking for a fastball and hit a slider," Melvin said. "That's the way it usually works out. Hit a squibber and get a hit. Hit a ball on the nose right into someone's glove."
It was not a pretty rally, but it was enough to make it a disheartening evening for Johnson.
"Sometimes, you just have to go out there and grind it out," said manager Frank Robinson. "I felt like we stole something tonight. We were very fortunate."
They were fortunate again in the top of the seventh, when Ken Griffey Jr. doubled with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Edgar Martinez then hit a fly ball to Evans in medium-deep right and Griffey Jr. tagged up to head home. Evans' throw was off line, but it didn't matter.
Randy Milligan cut off the throw and threw directly to third,
where umpire Ken Kaiser ruled that Griffey had left too soon and called him out.
"How many times do you get a call about a guy leaving a base early?" asked Robinson. "Everyone hollered. We couldn't wait for him to get in."
Melvin said: "The last thing I'm supposed to do is make sure he takes off on time. It was an obvious call. Everyone in the dugout saw it."
That was the last threat for the Mariners, who had won eight of the last nine meetings in Baltimore. Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson shut them down in the final two innings, preserving Mesa's second victory.
Seattle unleashed most of its fury early, but Mesa resisted, allowing only a first-inning score on a walk, Ken Griffey Sr.'s double and Griffey Jr.'s ground out.
They left the bases loaded in the second inning and did not score after putting the first two runners on in the fourth and
sixth. It was a gritty performance by Mesa in his first appearance against Seattle.
"He didn't have his best stuff," said Melvin, "but he kept us in the game."
But he had Lady Luck, which sometimes beats anything else. The Orioles have scored 13 runs in his five starts, but two proved enough in this one.
bTC "Johnson had no chance," deadpanned Robinson. "After an outbreak like that, we'll probably cancel batting practice again."
Orioles-Mariners scoring Mariners first: Reynolds walked. Griffey Sr. doubled to center, Reynolds to third. Griffey Jr. grounded out to third, Reynolds scored. Martinez popped out to shortstop. O'Brien grounded out to second. Mariners 1, Orioles 0.
Orioles sixth: Anderson walked. B.Ripken sacrificed to pitcher, Anderson to second. Devereaux walked. Milligan struck out. C.Ripken walked, Anderson to third, Devereaux to second. Evans walked, Anderson scored, Devereaux to third, C.Ripken to second. Melvin singled to third, Devereaux scored, C.Ripken to third, Evans to second. Gomez struck out. Orioles 2, Mariners 1.