For the first time all month, the Baltimore Orioles found a team they could beat in a series last night.
The victims were the California Angels, with their marquee names and powerful starting pitchers, but an inconsistency that is preventing them from making a serious run in the American League West.
The Orioles rallied from a defeat in the series opener to win for the second straight time, 8-4, with 5 1/3 innings of strong relief pitching and a well-distributed attack.
It enabled them to tie the season series at six in the 206th and final game California will play at Memorial Stadium. The franchise's first game was here, on April 11, 1961.
The Orioles wrapped up the decision with a three-run seventh inning against relievers Scott Bailes and Chris Beasley, a pitcher they had never seen.
Veteran Dwight Evans and Randy Milligan quickly solved Beasley, who had made one appearance in the majors.
With two on and two out, Evans bounced a ground-rule double over the right-center-field fence for one run, and Milligan followed with a two-run single to the opposite field.
"No one knew anything about him," said Evans. "You didn't know what his fastball would do. It was tough. I was just looking for the ball."
Evans drove in Juan Bell, who had ignited the rally with one of his two singles, and Milligan drove home Cal Ripken, who had walked after nearly hitting a two-run homer, and Evans.
"Sometimes the best way to approach a guy, even if you know him, is not to think too much," said Milligan. "If you try to out-think him, you can be in trouble."
All night, the Orioles produced the hits when they needed them off Kirk McCaskill and three successors.
Mike Devereaux equaled his 1990 total with his 12th homer, off McCaskill in the fifth, putting the Orioles ahead to stay, 4-3.
"For some reason, it seems every time I face the Angels, I feel good, especially against him," said Devereaux. "I wish we could play them all the time."
Devereaux has the most homers by an Orioles leadoff man since Don Buford hit 19 in 1971.
"I need to work on things leadoff hitters do, like bunting more and getting more walks. But not necessarily hitting less home runs," Devereaux said.
Chris Hoiles also homered to lead a three-run third inning capped by Ripken's two-run double.
"It's starting to come around," said Hoiles. "I'm using the whole field, going to right, and that's what you have to do when they're pitching you away."
Despite a home run by Dave Gallagher against a rusty Mark Williamson in the ninth for the final Angels run, the bullpen shut down the Angels.
Todd Frohwirth and Mike Flanagan shut out California through 4 1/3 innings, the 55th time in 94 games relief men have worked at least three innings.
"What can you say about our bullpen?" said manager John Oates. "They've done better than an outstanding job. Willie's rhythm was off because he hadn't pitched in seven days, but we needed a game like this to get him out there."
Ex-teammate Gallagher, who homered for the first time since April of 1989, finished the season with a .407 batting average against the Orioles.
The victory evened the Orioles' record on the homestand at 3-3 and improved their home record to 16-28. But the first series win since June 30 wasn't any signal for Oates.
"It takes a whole lot more than two ballgames to obtain a measure of consistency," he said.
* Angels-Orioles scoring Angels second: Parker homered down the right field line on 2- 2 count. Gaetti grounded out to second baseman Bell. Parrish grounded out to second baseman Bell. Gallagher flied out to center fielder Devereaux. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Angels 1, Orioles 0.
Orioles third: Hoiles homered to center on 0-1 count. Bell grounded out to second baseman Sojo. Devereaux singled to center. Orsulak singled to left, Devereaux to second. C.Ripken doubled down the left field line, Devereaux and Orsulak scored. Horn walked. Milligan grounded into fielder's choice, shortstop Schofield to second baseman Sojo, C.Ripken to third, Horn forced at second. Martinez struck out. 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Orioles 3, Angels 1.
Angels fourth: Joyner flied out to right fielder Martinez. Winfield walked. Parker singled to center, Winfield to second. Gaetti grounded into fielder's choice, shortstop C.Ripken to second baseman Bell, Winfield to third, Parker forced at second. Parrish singled to left, Winfield scored, Gaetti to second. Gallagher singled to left, Gaetti scored, Parrish to second. Frohwirth relieved Smith. Sojo flied out to right fielder Martinez. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Angels 3, Orioles 3.
Orioles fifth: Devereaux homered to center on 0-2 count. Orsulak grounded out to first baseman Joyner, pitcher McCaskill covering. C.Ripken grounded out to shortstop Schofield. Horn walked. Milligan popped out to second baseman Sojo. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 4, Angels 3.