NEW YORK -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bob Milacki has got to be used to this by now. He has pitched well most of the year, but you'd hardly know it by the numbers.
The New York Yankees waited him out last night and emerged with an 11-inning, 3-2 victory at Yankee Stadium in the first game of the Orioles' final road series of the year.
Milacki (10-8) carried a six-hitter through nine innings, but needed a seventh-inning home run by Leo Gomez just to get away with a no-decision. The Orioles were held in check by a parade of underpowering pitchers until rookie John Ramos put the Yankees over the top with a sacrifice fly off reliever Mark
Williamson in the 11th.
It has been that kind of year for Milacki, who has been the most consistent pitcher in the Orioles rotation and has only 10 victories to show for it. He threw 127 pitches -- 80 of them for strikes -- and held the Yankees hitless over his final four innings. Nobody ever said the game was fair.
"You couldn't ask much more of him," manager John Oates said. "Every time he goes out there, he keeps us in the ballgame. He's been very consistent.
Reliever Jim Poole, who has been one of the most effective left-handers in the league since he joined the club at the end of July, came on to pitch a hitless 10th, but he gave up singles to pinch hitter Jim Leyritz and Kevin Maas in the 11th before giving way to Williamson with one out and runners at first and third.
Ramos, in his first major-league pinch-hitting appearance, lofted a fly ball to medium-deep center, and Leyritz scored easily to send the Orioles to their 34th one-run loss of the year.
Williamson was upset with himself for the 1-2 slider that ended the game. The pitch was up in the strike zone at a time when he needed a ground ball or a strikeout.
"It was a hanging slider," he said in disgust. "I've got all the cards in that situation. With a 1-2 count, I've got three shots at making him hit my pitch."
The Yankees were celebrating the 30th anniversary of Roger Maris' historic 61st home run in 1961, which was appropriate, since the Yankees and the Orioles have seen better days.
The best either team can hope for is a fifth-place finish, and the Orioles are two games out with five games to go.
Oates says that he isn't concerned with the standings -- which probably is a good thing at this point -- but every rung on the division ladder is a step closer to respectability.
"All I want us to do is win as many of these last few games as we can," Oates said.
No doubt, Milacki feels the same way. He was coming off a rocky performance in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox, but he came back to pitch well in his 25th start of the season.
"I feel good about this year," Milacki said. "Whether I win my last game or not, I think I've shown that I can go seven, eight, nine innings."
He started slowly again last night, giving up a run on two hits in the first inning, but settled in to work into the sixth inning or later for the 19th time in his past 20 games.
Yankees manager Stump Merrill had to scratch scheduled starter Wade Taylor, who had sprained an ankle in his last start, but that was not exactly a break for the Orioles. Replacement pitcher Dave Eiland came into the game with a 1-5 record and a 5.93 ERA and proceeded to prove that numbers sometimes can be deceiving.
Eiland carried a shutout into the fifth inning before the Orioles parleyed an infield hit by Chito Martinez and a single by Gomez into the tying run. But the Yankees came back to regain the lead with three singles in the bottom of the inning.
Alvaro Espinoza opened the inning by beating out a dribbler down the third-base line. He moved up on a solid one-out single by Steve Sax and scored on a two-out hit by Roberto Kelly.
Eiland did not come out for the sixth. He was replaced by left-hander Lee Gutterman, who surrendered a game-tying home run to Gomez inthe seventh.
Gomez, who leads major-league rookies with 16 home runs, might have put the Orioles in front but for a hit-and-run play that went awry just moments earlier.
Pinch hitter Dwight Evans led off the inning with his 10th pinch hit of the year, a solid single to right that left him with the most pinch hits by an Oriole since Lee May and Terry Crowley had 10 apiece in 1980.
Evans broke for second on a 1-1 pitch, but the ball was down and so far inside that it nearly knocked Gomez off his feet. Nevertheless, catcher Matt Nokes still had plenty of time to make
the throw and nail Evans at second.
Yankees first: Sax grounded out to shortstop C.Ripken. Mattingly singled to center. R.Kelly doubled down the right-field line, Mattingly to third. Hall grounded out to second baseman B.Ripken, Mattingly scored, R.Kelly to third. Nokes grounded out to first baseman Davis. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Yankees 1, Orioles 0.