TORONTO -- It was exactly as general manager Roland Hemond had envisioned it last winter. The Baltimore Orioles were at SkyDome in the heat of the pennant race, and new additions Dwight Evans and Glenn Davis were making life miserable for the Toronto Blue Jays.
But the Orioles are only bit players in the American League East race, and their two off-season additions have played only bit parts this season, but they had the Blue Jays seeing stars after last night's 8-4 victory.
Evans had a season-high four hits, including a game-breaking, three-run homer in the seventh inning, and Davis highlighted a three-hit performance with a home run and a double, as the Orioles ended a three-game losing streak.
The two of them figured prominently in the club's 1991 schematic when the season began, but Davis missed four months with a freak neck injury and Evans spent a month on the disabled list with a sore Achilles' tendon. Last night, they were in the starting lineup together for only the 10th time this year.
Evans was in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 26, probably because he owned a .417 career average against Toronto starter David Wells. He had two singles and a double against the Blue Jays left-hander, then dropped the seventh-inning bomb on relief pitcher Jim Acker.
Davis entered the game in a 1-for-18 slump, but he homered in the fourth inning and doubled to start a sixth-inning rally that would force Wells out of the game. He also delivered a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Orioles starter Ben McDonald pitched six solid innings to earn his first victory since Aug. 2, but all good Orioles pitching news must come with an asterisk. He had to leave the game with stiffness in his shoulder, a condition that the club said was not serious.
McDonald was coming off his best start in a month, an eight-inning, eight-strikeout performance against the Blue Jays at Memorial Stadium that had manager John Oates wondering if happy days were here again.
The McDonald curveball, so inconsistent this year, was showing up in the strike zone more and more, even if the results weren't showing up in the box score.
"I made the statement about four starts ago that it seemed like it was coming," Oates said. "The last four or five times out, it's been a little bit better and a little bit better."
But McDonald remains prone to the mistake pitch, as he proved again last night. He retired the Blue Jays in order in the first inning, but gave up a two-run homer to Kelly Gruber in the second.
It was Gruber's 16th home run of the year and the 12th of his career against the Orioles. He has hit three of them against Baltimore this season. First baseman John Olerud also hit his 16th home run, a bases-empty shot to left in the sixth.
McDonald has given up 16 homers in 119 1/3 innings this year. He yielded nine over 118 2/3 innings during his half-season with the club in 1990. He has gone from being one of the most effective pitchers in the major leagues during the second half of last year to considering the addition of a new pitch to his repertoire.
He threw a forkball in college and might incorporate it into his pitch selection next year, though Oates has some reservations.
"It might be better to have three good pitches than four mediocre ones," Oates said. "Usually, the ones that have the fourth pitch don't have the fastball that he does."
McDonald weathered the two-run second, and his teammates fought back against Wells, using the long ball to score in the fourth inning. Davis hit a shot into the Orioles bullpen in right field for his sixth home run of the season and second since he returned from four months on the disabled list.
Davis came into the game in a 1-for-18 slump. Oates said Monday that he looked anxious at the plate -- "He's jumping at everything," Oates said -- but Davis waited on the pitch and took it to the opposite field.
Randy Milligan followed with a long, ground-rule double to left, and Evans singled to set up a game-tying sacrifice fly by Leo Gomez.
Wells worked with runners on base in each of the first four innings, hardly a surprise considering the Orioles' .397 average against him coming into the game. His time finally ran out in the sixth, when four straight batters reached base with one out and the Orioles scored two runs.
Davis and Evans were in the middle of that rally, too. Davis doubled and Evans singled to set up an RBI single by Gomez and a sacrifice fly by Bob Melvin.
Site: SkyDome, Toronto
Time: 7:35 p.m.
Orioles starter: Bob Milacki (8-7, 4.01)
Blue Jays starter: Todd Stottlemyre (12-6, 3.78)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)
Orioles in 1990
In the Orioles' 132nd game last season, they lost to the Brewers, 4-2. Here's where the Orioles stood:
Record.. .. Position.. .. GB
60-72.. ... 5.. .. .. ... 14 1/2