The Bash Brothers didn't raise a forearm last night, but the renewed and improved Oakland Athletics left behind some bruised egos when they slipped out of Baltimore.
Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina brought home a run with a wild pitch and set up the go-ahead run with another to help the A's complete a three-game sweep with a 4-2 victory at Camden Yards.
The Orioles had been next to invincible at home until the A's arrived in town, but even their last unbeaten pitcher could not keep the Oakland lineup under wraps. Mussina was able to keep Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire from putting any more dents in the new stadium, but he could not contain the lower end of the A's lineup.
The bottom four spots in the Oakland batting order accounted for seven of the A's' nine hits and three of the four runs. Mussina just complicated matters with his two wild pitches and suffered his first defeat in six 1992 decisions.
Oakland right-hander Bob Welch was not particularly sharp in the early innings, but he settled down to pitch eight strong innings and earn his second victory of the year and hand the Orioles their fourth consecutive loss.
Mussina was the third Orioles pitcher to take the mound in search of victory No. 6. Ben McDonald had his perfect 5-0 record blemished on Saturday, when the Chicago White Sox hammered him for seven runs in five innings at Comiskey Park. Rick Sutcliffe went after his sixth victory Monday night, but surrendered eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in the series opener against the A's.
The Orioles were looking to Mussina to remain on a roll and put an end to the club's three-game losing streak, but it wasn't to be. He has been the most consistent pitcher in the rotation since he arrived in the major leagues last July, and he has been particularly tough in the early innings this year, but fell victim to a rare struggle with his control.
He had not surrendered a hit in the first inning in his first seven starts, but Rickey Henderson greeted him last night with a leadoff double and moved around to score on a sacrifice and a ground out. Mussina also gave up a double in the second inning, but got out of trouble with the help of third baseman Leo Gomez, who ranged to his left to stab a sharp line drive off the bat of Willie Wilson.
Oakland starter Welch had even more trouble getting started. He allowed four of the first five batters to reach base, yet found his way out of the inning before the Orioles could do any serious damage.
Mike Devereaux started the rally with a solid single to center and Cal Ripken walked on a full-count pitch before Glenn Davis loaded the bases with a base hit to right. Welch complicated the situation by walking Randy Milligan to bring home a run, but struck out Chris Hoiles and Joe Orsulak to get out of the inning.
It has been that kind of year for Welch, who missed most of spring training and the first month of the season with a long list of injuries. He has had his moments -- most notably the seven shutout innings he pitched against Detroit May 7 -- but he had done little to remind anyone that he was the winningest pitcher in baseball two years ago.
The A's staked him to another slim lead in the fifth on a pair of singles and the first of a couple ill-timed wild pitches by Mussina, but it would not survive the inning. Brady Anderson tied it up again with a one-out line drive over the center-field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning for his fifth home run of the year.
The Orioles evened the score, but they again wasted a prime opportunity to get more. Devereaux and Ripken followed with back-to-back singles to put runners at first and third, but Davis popped out and Milligan bounced into a force at second to end the threat.
Anderson continues to do the unexpected. He was hitless in 15 career at-bats against Welch when he set a single-season high ** with home run No. 5. His 29th RBI moved him into a tie for fourth in the league in that department.
Mussina did the unexpected, too, throwing a second wild pitch in the seventh to set up two more Oakland runs. He gave up back-to-back singles to Terry Steinbach and Wilson with one out, then bounced a pitch to the backstop to move them up. Steinbach scored on a high fly to shallow center field and Wilson scored from second on a base hit by Lance Blankenship.
Both times, a big throw from the outfield might have registered the final out of the inning, but neither play was close. The Orioles were left in the unenviable position of being two runs down with A's stopper Dennis Eckersley waiting for another chance to put them out of business.