Orioles are spoilers again, as 9-7 win sours Tigers

September 28, 1991|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Correspondent

DETROIT -- The Baltimore Orioles dealt a severe blow to the pennant hopes of one team Thursday, and last night they put another on the canvas.

After rallying for a dramatic victory over the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a doubleheader, the Orioles rode a five-RBI outburst by Cal Ripken to a 9-7 conquest of Detroit and left the Tigers' elimination from the American League East pennant race almost a foregone conclusion.

Whatever faint chance the Tigers nurtured in the race disappeared when Ripken knocked home two unearned runs in the eighth inning and pushed the Orioles into a three-run lead.

The hit, driven between the first base bag and Cecil Fielder, was the first allowed by reliever Kevin Ritz, whose 2 2/3 shutout innings had permitted the Tigers to recover from a five-run deficit.

"It was about the only place I could hit it," said Ripken. "I had to fight off a good pitch."

The hit scored Juan Bell, who had forced Chris Hoiles trying to bunt, and Joe Orsulak, who had walked, settling a marathon in which 26 position players and 10 pitchers were used.

Coupled with the first-place Toronto Blue Jays' victory over the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers' magic number for elimination was reduced to two on a chilly night at Tiger Stadium.

"They're a solid ballclub in our own division," said Ripken. "The thing you like to do the last month is play teams like this tough. Maybe we can leave them with a message that we can be competitive with them next year."

Ripken highlighted a six-run Orioles fifth inning with a two-run triple, a shot to the flagpole in the deepest center field in the majors.

"I wanted that pitch inside," said losing pitcher Walt Terrell, who was 3-0 against the Orioles at Tiger Stadium beforehand. "Obviously, it wasn't far enough. But he's having a good year. It was almost like he knew what was coming."

The Orioles committed two errors and fell one short of the American League record for consecutive errorless games, set at 14 by the California Angels earlier this season.

Bell booted Fielder's routine ground ball in the fifth when the Tigers knocked out Arthur Rhodes before he had retired a batter and again denied him a chance at his first major-league victory.

But the Orioles' offense, which included home runs by Sam Horn (his sixth in 15 games) and Glenn Davis, more than compensated in a game in which they trailed only once, 2-1.

They connected in consecutive at-bats in the top of the fifth, Horn's shot hitting the facade atop the right-field stands and Davis' soaring over the 400-foot sign just to the left of straightaway center.

It was a strong indication that Davis has recovered from the back spasms that have hampered him for a week.

"It was a little stiff, but that's normal," he said after a chilly night on the field. "There are only nine more games to go, so I'll try to make it through."

The Orioles' bullpen again did the job, although Todd Frohwirth was charged with an unearned run after David Segui erred in the eighth to set up the final Tigers run.

With nine earned runs allowed in their past 58 innings, Orioles relievers have a 1.40 ERA.

Rhodes allowed 12 runners in four-plus innings, another sign that he may require a season of grooming with the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings before being ready to step permanently into the rotation.

Manager John Oates said he "probably gave him [Rhodes] less rope after guys got on with a five-run lead. Willie [Mark Williamson] took two guys to warm up.

"The last thing I'm worried about is getting anybody a win. My job is to get the Baltimore Orioles wins."

At least the Orioles averted another one-run game, as Gregg Olson closed by retiring four straight hitters, three on strikeouts, for his 31st save.

The result prevented Detroit from matching its win total of last season (78).

Orioles today

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Orioles starter: Mike Mussina (4-5, 3.31)

Tigers starter: Bill Gullickson (19-9, 3.94)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

TV: None

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