OAKLAND, Calif. -- For the first time in almost four years, the Orioles scored a run against Dennis Eckersley. That was the good news here last night.
The bad news is that Eckersley still managed his 13th save in as many opportunities against the Orioles since Aug. 28, 1988. In the process the Oakland A's bumped the Orioles out of first place with a 5-3 victory before 31,389.
Mike Moore (6-3) and four relievers combined to space 10 hits against the Orioles, who did all of their scoring in the last two innings on home runs by Chito Martinez (No. 2) and Brady Anderson (7).
Bob Milacki (4-3) was the loser, giving up eight hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings as his personal three-game winning streak was stopped. The loss was the eighth in the past 11 games for the Orioles, who have lost three of their first four on this road trip to fall a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays, who moved into first place with yesterday's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
For the A's, Jose Canseco (10) and league leader Mark McGwire (18) had home runs, while Mike Bordick and Lance Blankenship, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in Oakland's lineup, combined to produce the first two runs of the game.
The win was only the third in seven games for the A's since they swept a three-game series in Baltimore 10 days ago. They had lost their last three to the Cleveland Indians to fall out of first place in the American League's Western Division.
It was a game of missed opportunities for the Orioles. "We had base runners in every inning but the first," said manager Johnny Oates. "We had some opportunities early in the game, but it would have been nice to have the luxury of some of those guys on with less than two outs."
Three double plays, all started by shortstop Cal Ripken, helped Milacki through the first five innings. But the right-hander's inability to handle the 8-9-1 hitters in the A's lineup cost him a pair of runs.
Milacki faced only six batters in the first two innings, with Canseco's double-play grounder negating Jerry Browne's leadoff bunt single. But, after Willie Wilson became Milacki's third straight strikeout victim to open the third, No. 8 hitter Bordick walked and came around to score when Blankenship followed with a double to left-center field.
An inning later, Harold Baines hit into a double-play following a single by Canseco. After McGwire singled and Terry Steinbach walked, Wilson ended the threat by grounding out.
Bordick, a career .229 hitter who came into the game with a .355 average, doubled into the left-center-field gap to open the fifth inning and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Blankenship. With the infield drawn in, Browne reached out and slapped an 0-and-2 pitch past a diving Ripken and into left field to give the A's a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Orioles had at least one base runner in every inning except the first, but couldn't break through against Moore. Their best opportunities came in the fourth and sixth innings, when they left a combined five runners on base.
In the fourth, Ripken singled and Glenn Davis walked with one out, but Randy Milligan lined to Wilson in center field and Chris Hoiles took a third strike. Leo Gomez had a one-out double in the fifth, but was stranded when Mark McLemore fouled out and Anderson was called out on strikes.
Davis and Milligan singled and Hoiles walked to load the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Chito Martinez grounded out to McGwire at first base.
The A's scored two more runs in the seventh to chase Milacki. Canseco, hitting just .229 going into the game, led off with his 10th home run of the year, a deep drive to left field. Baines popped out, but McGwire walked and Steinbach dropped the A's second bunt single in front of Orioles' third baseman Gomez.
A wild pitch advanced the runners and Wilson was walked intentionally to load the bases. Bordick's line drive to Martinez in hTC right field was not deep enough to score McGwire from third base, but was hit hard enough to influence Orioles manager Johnny Oates to replace Milacki with Storm Davis.
After falling behind 2-and-0, Davis went to a full count on Blankenship, who fouled off two pitches before drawing a bases-loaded walk to boost the A's lead to 4-0 before Browne flied out.
The Orioles finally got rid of Moore in the seventh, but managed only to pad their total of runners left on base.
Site: Oakland Alameda County Coliseum
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Orioles starter: Jose Mesa (1-5, 5.15)
Athletics starter: Joe Slusarski (4-2, 5.13)
TV: Channels 2, 20
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)