It was just after 1 a.m. today when Cal Ripken Sr. called across the clubhouse to reliever Gregg Olson.
"Hey, Olson," the third base coach said, "you had better stuff today than you did yesterday."
Ripken was right on the money. In the opener of last night's 4-3, 8-7 doubleheader sweep over Texas, Olson squandered a save and was nicked for five hits in two innings, surrendering a run to the Rangers for the first time in his career.
In the nightcap, which ended at 12:52 a.m., Olson retired two of the last three hitters to preserve the victory for Todd Frohwirth.
"I did my best to forget what happened in the first game," said Olson, who had not allowed the Rangers a run in 14 lifetime appearances spanning 16 innings and had held them to a .080 batting average.
"It was tough to swallow," said Olson, who was 3-0 with six saves and 24 strikeouts against Texas. "I had nine innings to try to get rid of the thought I had blown a save. As I sat there for four hours, it kept flashing through my mind. But that's the problem a closer has -- he has to live with what he does. And then go back out again."
Manager John Oates expressed surprise that Olson stewed over the possibility of another appearance the same night.
"Funny, but I thought most guys would rather get out there again as soon as possible to erase it," Oates said.
Olson wasn't facing a bunch of banjo hitters. The Rangers came into the evening with the second best batting average (.278) in the majors and a .322 spree in their last 18 games.
"They had the pressure on me all night, instead of the other way around," Olson said. "They found holes and did the job when they had to."
The Orioles have now captured three straight one-run games for the first time since May 1987 at Oakland. To pull out the two last night, they employed 13 pitchers to tie a major-league record set by Milwaukee in 1963 and matched by San Diego in 1977.
Oates called on seven pitchers in the 12-inning opener, matching the most they've needed in one game since a 1989 loss in 13 innings to Boston. Dave Johnson followed Olson and got his first major-league victory in relief.
The use of so many pitchers in one night -- Mark Williamson, Jim Poole, Todd Frohwirth and Olson each worked twice -- leaves Oates with a problem. Who will start tomorrow night in the series finale against Texas? Roy Smith was scheduled to, but he pitched 2 1/3 innings in the nightcap.
"I did it two or three times with the Twins, starting and relieving," Smith said. "In 1989 I had four starts and two relief appearances in 18 days."
Oates says he has "no idea" who will start tomorrow night but that it won't be Smith. "We need someone to take his place," Oates said.
The Orioles might call up someone from the minors, Jose Mesa from Triple A Rochester or Arthur Rhodes from Double A Hagerstown. Johnson will take his regular start Friday at Milwaukee, followed by Ben McDonald Saturday and Bob Milacki Sunday.
Oates had to reach into the bullpen for his second game starter last night. Stacy Jones, making his first major-league start, lasted only three innings and was assaulted for four runs. He expended 37 pitches in the first inning, a mere six in the second, then 21 in the third.
"It was a spot start," Oates said. "He struggled to get his fastball where he wanted it. He isn't as comfortable as he is pitching out of the bullpen. But you have to keep in mind Texas is a good hitting club."
The Orioles scored eight runs in the first three innings and then hung on. Chito Martinez had three hits and Brady Anderson, Joe Orsulak and David Segui contributed two apiece.
In the first game, Johnson picked up his third victory when the Orioles pushed across an unearned run in the 12th inning.
Leo Gomez scored the clincher on a wild throw to third base by pitcher Ken Rogers after Juan Bell bunted. Bob Melvin, the previous hitter, had moved Gomez to second with a bunt.
"It was a good feeling to see that ball rolling down the leftfield line in the 12th inning, especially when we were out of pitching," Oates said, referring to Rogers' poor throw. "Melvin bunted on his own. They had to be good bunts because we didn't have much speed on the bases. That puts pressure on the bunter."
Johnson worked two innings, wriggling out of trouble in the 11th when Melvin called for a pitchout and foiled a squeeze play. Gary Pettis was caught in a rundown off third base.
Johnson is determined to make the most of the rest of the season. If it requires some relief pitching, so be it.
"I'm not pitching the way I want, and I'm obviously not getting the results," Johnson said. "But I'm not writing off the season. We have six or seven more weeks."
Bob Milacki, the starter, didn't get the win despite pitching six strong innings. It was the ninth time in his last 10 starts that he has worked at least six innings.
His main sin was serving a two-run homer to Steve Buechele. He also made trouble for himself by allowing the leadoff batter to reach base six times.
"The combination of Milacki and the others holding them to three runs is real good, because those guys can score," Oates said.
The Rangers are now 2-5 against the Orioles this year. Nolan Ryan posted both victories.
Ryan threw for 25 minutes yesterday. But it was off the mound in Texas, where he is staying while he recovers from an arm problem.