NEW YORK -- Baltimore Orioles rookie Arthur Rhodes made a nice last impression, but he will have to wait until at least next year to get his first major-league victory.
Rhodes worked seven innings and gave up six hits in his longest performance at the big-league level, but the New York Yankees scored a run off reliever Mike Flanagan in the eighth to take a 4-3 decision and move to the brink of a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium.
Second baseman Steve Sax opened the eighth inning with a line drive off the left-field foul pole that broke a 3-3 tie and sent Flanagan to his seventh loss in nine decisions.
The Orioles had come back from a one-run deficit in the top of the inning with a game-tying sacrifice fly by Leo Gomez. That took Rhodes off the hook and left him with an 0-3 record and an 8.00 ERA to show for his six-week stay in the majors.
New York left-hander Greg Cadaret, the second of three relievers to pick up for starter Pascual Perez, got the victory and improved to 8-6. Relief stopper Steve Farr fought through the heart of the Orioles lineup to pitch a scoreless ninth and earn his team-leading 22nd save.
Rhodes was making his final major-league start of 1991 and, perhaps, his last one for a while. It seems almost certain that he will start the season with the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings next year, but the club is not ready to rule him out of the 1992 rotation.
"I think we'll wait until he completes the winter-league season and pitches in spring training," assistant general manager Frank Robinson said. "I think it's premature to say he won't start the season with our ballclub. I've seen individuals come back from winter ball and it's the difference between night and day."
The 22-year-old left-hander made eight starts after he was recalled from the Class AA Hagerstown Suns. He lasted more than four innings in only two of them, but Orioles officials say his major-league experience was a positive one.
"I think it showed him what he has to work on and what he has to do to be successful," said Robinson, who scouted Rhodes twice TTC at Hagerstown before he was recalled. "If it were mentally wearing on him, he wouldn't be out there."
Designated hitter Sam Horn staked Rhodes to a one-run lead i the second with his 23rd home run of the season, a shot into the upper deck above right field. But the Yankees played long ball to regain the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Yankees DH John Ramos, who won Tuesday night's game with an 11th-inning sacrifice fly, reached first on a one-out single and Hensley Meulens lined a ball over the right-field fence for his sixth home run of the year.
Left fielder Roberto Kelly added to the lead in the third with a bases-empty shot that barely cleared the 314-foot sign in the right-field corner.
The Yankees rank fifth in the American League in home runs (142), but Meulens' homer was the first by a Yankees hitter in 190 at-bats. The Orioles rank third in the league with 167, behind the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers.
New York starter Perez is still trying to justify the giant contract (three years, $5.7 million) he signed before the 1990 season, but last night's start was only his 17th during the past two seasons.
He missed most of the 1990 season recovering from shoulder surgery and spent time on the disabled list this year with shoulder stiffness, but has come back to close out the season with 10 consecutive starts.
Perez entered last night's game with just one victory in five decisions since coming off the DL, but he has pitched well enough to post a respectable 3.70 ERA over that stretch. He continued to pitch well in last night's five-inning performance, though Horn kept the Orioles in the game with his first three-hit game since May 7.
Orioles second: Horn homered to right on 1-1 count. Milligan flied out to right fielder Meulens. Martinez grounded out to second baseman Sax. Gomez singled to center. Hoiles singled to left, Gomez to second. B.Ripken grounded into fielder's choice, shortstop Espinoza to second baseman Sax, Hoiles forced at second. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 er
rors, 2 left on. Orioles 1, Yankees 0.
Yankees second: R.Kelly grounded out to shortstop C.Ripken. Ramos singled to center. Meulens homered to right on 3-2 count, Ramos and Meulens scored. Lovullo singled to left. Espinoza struck out. Williams walked, Lovullo to second. Sax grounded into fielder's choice, shortstop C.Ripken to second baseman B.Ripken, Williams forced at second. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Yankees 2, Orioles 1.
Yankees third: Leyritz walked. Mattingly grounded into double play, second baseman B.Ripken to shortstop C.Ripken to first baseman Milligan. R.Kelly homered down the right-field line on 0-1 count. Ramos struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Yankees 3, Orioles 1.