ANAHEIM, Calif. -- California Angels stopper Bryan Harvey threw what amounted to a fact-finding pitch to rookie outfielder Chito Martinez, and didn't like what he found out.
Martinez hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning on Monday night to give the Baltimore Orioles a 2-1 comeback victory in the opener of a two-game series at Anaheim Stadium.
"I just tried to keep it away from him a little bit to see what I could do with it," Harvey said, "but it got out over the plate."
It also got over the right-field fence to trash a perfectly good eight-inning performance by Angels starter Kirk McCaskill, who gave up three hits in one of his best performances of 1991.
Harvey had fallen behind 1-0 in the count and wanted to get even. Instead, he got outguessed by a 25-year-old minor-league journeyman with a total of eight games' worth of major-league experience.
The Orioles were down to their last out before Randy Milligan singled through the middle to put the potential tying run at first base. Brady Anderson pinch-ran for Milligan and stole second on the first pitch to Martinez. But the next pitch made the stolen base unnecessary.
"It was a fastball pretty much right down the middle of the plate," Martinez said. "I think he was trying to get the first strike in there. I was just going to go after the first strike and try to get Brady home."
The game brought back painful memories for Harvey, who blew a save opportunity in similar fashion two weeks ago in Detroit when he gave up a two-out, game-tying home run to former Oriole Mickey Tettleton.
"It was like in Detroit," Harvey said. "When you're that close, you want to put it away. I just feel bad for Mac [McCaskill]. He pitched a heck of a game."
McCaskill was not the only one. Orioles starter Jeff Ballard turned in his second solid start in a row, scattering 10 hits and allowing one run over eight innings.
Ballard was working on seven days' rest -- thanks to the three-day All-Star break -- but he survived a couple of early-inning jams to equal his longest outing of the year. He gave up a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Dick Schofield on the way to his sixth victory of the year.
It would have been Ballard's first complete game since August 1989 if the Orioles had not rallied in the ninth. But the Angels had to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
"That breaks my heart," Ballard said.
Reliever Todd Frohwirth took over in the ninth and retired the Angels in order for his first major-league save.
"That's a big uplift for me right there," Ballard said. "I pitched a good game and stayed right in there and someone popped one."
The Angels continue to struggle at the plate and lost for the eighth time in their past nine games. The dramatic defeat had to be particularly disheartening, coming as it did on the day after the club ended a seven-game losing streak with a 10-run performance against the New York Yankees.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff remains among the most effective in baseball, with McCaskill (7-11) owning the only sub-.500 record among the top four starters.
McCaskill came into the game on a reverse roll. He had lost six of his previous seven decisions, but his 3.75 ERA is better than that of any member of the Orioles rotation.
Perhaps that is why the Angels are fighting for a division title in the tough American League West while the Orioles are solidly entrenched in sixth place in the AL East.
Orioles manager John Oates can see positive signs everywhere, particularly in right field, where Martinez has been a pleasant surprise.
"He hit one pretty good at the right time against a pretty good pitcher," Oates said. "That was a big lift for Jeff and a big lift for all of us."
The victory improved Oates' record in one-run games to 5-12 and moved him to within two victories of .500 (23-25). After last night's series finale with the Angels, the Orioles traveled to Kansas City, where they will play two games against the Royals before returning home for a weekend series against the Seattle Mariners.
Orioles in 1990
In the Orioles' 86th game last season, they defeated the Twins, 3-2. Here's where the Orioles stood:
Record .. . Position. . . GB
40-46. . . 5. . . . . . . 7 1/2