Orioles rookies turn on power in 5-2 victory

July 25, 1991|By Kent Baker

With rookies Chito Martinez and Leo Gomez hitting late-inning home runs, the Baltimore Orioles prevented Chuck Finley from becoming major-league baseball's first 14-game winner with a 5-2 victory over California at Memorial Stadium.

It broke a five-game Orioles losing streak against Finley, who is among the American League leaders in winning percentage and strikeouts and a certain Cy Young contender.

Martinez and Gomez scored or drove in all five Orioles runs in giving the victory to Bob Milacki, who pitched into the eighth before handing the ball to the bullpen.

Martinez's fourth homer broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning, and Gomez followed in the eighth with a two-run shot that assured the end of a three-game Baltimore losing streak.

"So far, it's been a little more than I expected," said Martinez, who has hits in 13 of 14 starts since being recalled July 5. "I'm just trying to hit the ball hard, and I don't care where it goes."

His homer was a slicing drive into the left-field bleachers on a 2-2 count after he ignited the first Orioles rally with a double.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run," he said. "But you've got to like those short porches on either side here."

Hitting second in the batting order -- between Mike Devereaux and Cal Ripken -- Martinez sees a lot of fastballs. He said he likes hitting there -- so much so that even the lefty-lefty matchup hasn't been a problem.

"I very seldom try to pull the ball off a lefty," he said. "I try to hit it up the middle or go to left. I feel good that John [Oates, Orioles manager] is putting me out there against lefties."

"You've got to keep him in the lineup," said Oates. "He's impressing against some quality left-handers. Tonight, he hit one in the right park in the right direction at the right time.

"I'd like to see him play like this about 10 more years."

Martinez is 6-for-13 against the Angles and has produced two game-winning homers in 10 days against them.

Gomez, who should feast on left-handers, hasn't hit much against anyone lately. He was 4-for-42 entering the game and dropped to eighth in the batting order.

"I thought Leo was starting to see the ball better last night. He had gotten to where he was pulling off it a little bit," said Oates.

Against Finley, Gomez went 3-for-3, homering on a 3-0 count to complete a confidence-building night.

"I'm happy I was given the green light, that John has the confidence in me," he said. "I'd been struggling the last couple weeks. Too many guys catching my line drives."

Neither player ever had batted against Finley, 5-2 lifetime against the Orioles.

The late outburst stole a little thunder from Milacki, who suddenly has found a groove. Two starts ago, he was the lead man in the four-pitcher no-hitter at Oakland, and, in his previous start, he threw the Orioles' only complete game in the past 60 in a loss at Kansas City.

"I see a lot of the end of 1988 and all of 1989 in what he's doing now," said Oates. "He's getting the changeup over when he wants and has the extra velocity on his slider."

"I've pitched well the last five or six starts," said Milacki. "I'm not making the mistakes I was making before. I'm able to throw the fastball where I want it and the breaking ball when I'm behind in the count."

His only real miscue was a 2-2 pitch that Dave Parker deposited over the right-center-field fence to tie the game at 2 in the seventh.

"I made the mistake of trying to strike him out," said Milacki.

Milacki threw 86 pitches before leaving with one out and one on in the eighth. Mike Flanagan got out of that innning with nine pitches, and Gregg Olson threw 12 in a 1-2-3 ninth to gain his 21st save and sixth for Milacki.

Of the 21 pitches needed by the bullpen, 17 were strikes.

The Orioles are 7-3 in Milacki's last 10 starts, 5-2 when he is involved in the decision. It is the first semblance of a run for a pitcher who started the season in Class AA.

Angels-Orioles scoring Orioles first: Devereaux flied out to left fielder Polonia. Martinez doubled to left. C.Ripken doubled down the right field line, Martinez scored. C.Ripken stole third. Milligan struck out. Evans grounded out to shortstop Schofield. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 1, Angels 0.

Orioles fourth: Evans walked. Segui singled to left, Evans to second. Hoiles flied out to center fielder Gallagher, Evans to third. Gomez hit sacrifice fly to center fielder Gallagher, Evans scored. Bell safe on shortstop Schofield's fielding error, Segui to second. Devereaux flied out to left fielder Polonia. 1 run, 1 hit, 1 error, 2 left on. Orioles 2, Angels 0.

Angels fifth: Gaetti doubled to left. Parrish struck out. Gallagher singled to left, Gaetti scored. Sojo lined out to second baseman Bell. Schofield flied out to center fielder Devereaux. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 2, Angels 1.

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