A's 3-run 9th washes out Orioles' rally Oakland wins, 12-9, after losing 6-run lead

July 27, 1991|By Kent Baker

The moon was full, and some peculiar things happened at Memorial Stadium last night.

There was a 58-minute rain delay after two innings. Dave Johnson returned from the disabled list and yielded three home runs in relief of struggling Jeff Robinson.

The Baltimore Orioles wiped out a six-run deficit in the seventh inning against the once-vaunted Oakland Athletics bullpen, then failed to get a runner home from third with one out in the eighth and soon paid for it, as the Athletics scored three runs in the ninth for a 12-9 victory.

Gregg Olson's throwing error opened the gates to the decisive uprising after he inherited a first-and-third, one-out situation with the score tied at 9.

Olson knocked down Jamie Quirk's shot through the box and a made a hurried, off-balance throw to second out of the reach of Cal Ripken. Considering his position, Olson had no chance to get go-ahead runner Scott Hemond at the plate, so he tried to make the only play he could.

"He just reacted," said manager John Oates. "You almost have to go to the plate on that play, but it was one of those times when he threw in the only direction he could. I wished he would have missed the ball altogether."

In that event, the Orioles probably would have had a double play and perhaps only a one-run deficit entering their half of the ninth.

But one run scored, leaving runners at second and third. After an intentional walk, Mike Gallego singled home two runs to give the A's a cushion.

The Orioles had loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against Joe Klink, but the pitcher was scarcely to blame.

With one out, Leo Gomez reached on a two-base throwing error by shortstop Mike Bordick, playing in place of injured Walt Weiss.

Bob Melvin sent a line drive to left, but Rickey Henderson apparently lost the ball in the lights, and it fell beside him for a hit, with Gomez holding at third.

Tim Hulett batted for Juan Bell and forced Melvin, with Gomez again forced to hold because the ball was hit beside the bag.

"I can't do anything there," said Gomez. "I was frozen."

Klink walked Mike Devereaux intentionally after reaching a 3-1 count, then retired David Segui on a soft liner to short.

Johnson entered with the score 3-3 and the bases loaded in the Oakland fifth. The second batter, Ernest Riles, tagged him for a grand slam, and two innings later, Jose Canseco and Harold Baines hit bases-empty shots for a 9-3 lead.

"I felt great. I just didn't make a couple of pitches," said Johnson. "I feel I've got to shoot off my mouth to get an opportunity, and then I fall flat on my face."

But the Orioles answered by knocking out Dave Stewart and continuing the rally against two pitchers whose excellence used to be almost monotonously automatic, Rick Honeycutt and Gene Nelson.

Nelson was the victim of a two-out grand slam by Dwight Evans that tied the game in the seventh.

"We had come back. It was exciting," said Oates. "I think the team showed it would keep battling. But it's still just another loss."

The six-run inning matched the biggest of the season for the Orioles and marked the second time they have rallied from at least six down to tie only to lose the game.

On the previous occasion, they were behind, 8-1, to Bret Saberhagen and the Kansas City Royals on June 12. Evans also tied that one with a homer, but the team lost, 9-8, in 10 innings.

It was a night when Henderson was caught stealing by the Orioles for the first time since June 13, 1986 when Rick Dempsey threw him out.

It was a night when the 3,000th game at Memorial Stadium seemingly had no end.

But when it was over, it simply was another loss to the three-time league champions, who have won eight of their past 10 here and are 7-3 against the Orioles overall this season.

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