Twins' 4-run 9th tops Orioles, 5-2, as bullpen fails 7 strong innings by Milacki wasted

August 25, 1991|By Kent Baker

All season, the Baltimore Orioles have floundered at Memorial Stadium despite resounding fan support in the lame-duck park.

But lately, they had reversed the slide with a six-game home winning streak, mostly against contending teams from the tougher American League West.

Even the Minnesota Twins, the division leaders, weren't immune, dropping the opener of their current series Friday night.

But last night, the Twins got even, scoring four runs in the ninth inning against relievers Mike Flanagan and Gregg Olson to come from behind for a 5-2 triumph before 37,958 fans.

The Orioles bullpen couldn't finish the job after Bob Milacki had out-dueled Tom Edens early and center fielder Mike Devereaux had scored both Orioles runs and made what appeared to be a game-saving catch of Greg Gagne's deep shot to left-center in the seventh inning.

In the ninth, Flanagan allowed a leadoff single to Kent Hrbek, a walk to Chili Davis and a game-tying single to Shane Mack before getting a force-out to leave Olson with a first and third, one-out situation.

Olson walked Randy Bush to fill the bases, then struck out Brian Harper. But Dan Gladden cleared the bases with a triple to left-center, and the Twins had their 55th victory in the past 81 games.

The Twins had closed within a run on Mack's homer in the seventh, and Junior Ortiz singled with two out and was running when Devereaux made a diving stab of Gagne's drive.

Todd Frohwirth, who not allowed a Twin to reach base in three appearances, worked a 1-2-3 eighth, stretching his string of scoreless innings to 12 2/3 .

But that was the end of the Orioles domination in another heartbreaker for Milacki, winless in four straight starts despite strong efforts.

In the process, Joe Orsulak singled with two out in the seventh to increase his hitting streak to 20 games, two short of the Orioles record.

Milacki, at 27 the oldest member of the majors' youngest starting rotation, rolled into the seventh with a three-hitter and a 2-0 lead.

In his previous two starts, Milacki had gone into the seventh inning or later having allowed two runs or fewer and not won either game.

This time, the Orioles gave him two early runs against Edens, a pitcher they had seen only briefly, when he worked for the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

"We only had 10 or 11 at-bats against him, and it's hard to get a line based on that," said manager John Oates.

In the first, Devereaux walked on a 3-2 pitch, moved to second on Orsulak's ground-out and to third when Cal Ripken reached on an infield hit off the glove of third baseman Mike Pagliarulo.

A force-out by Glenn Davis scored Devereaux when Edens went for a double play and missed.

In the bottom of the third, Devereaux led off with a homer on a 3-1 pitch, his career-high 14th homer. It is the highest total by an Orioles leadoff batter since Don Buford hit 19 in 1970.

Otherwise, Edens acquitted himself well in his first start for the Twins since being promoted from the Class AAA Portland Beavers on Thursday.

The Orioles managed only one other threat through six innings, putting two runners on with two out in the sixth before Chris Hoiles forced Leo Gomez at second base.

Milacki, winless since Aug. 3, had not allowed a hit through 3 2/3 innings before Kirby Puckett hit a broken-bat single to left field. Hrbek singled after that, but nothing came of it.

The blows stretched hitting streaks to nine for Puckett and 13 for Hrbek.

Minnesota had two other runners through six innings -- one on an error, one on Gladden's single -- but neither advanced beyond first base.

Milacki was in a good groove, with eight straight starts in which he pitched at least six innings. He had walked only 16 in his previous 82 1/3 innings.

The Orioles entered the night with six straight victories at Memorial Stadium and were seeking their longest home winning streak since 1985.

They were 8-4 since being no-hit by Chicago White Sox rookie Wilson Alvarez, 3-1 since Davis returned from his four months on the disabled list and 8-1 in the past nine games against the AL West.

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