The Orioles won a game last night but got a scare that will keep them wondering until today whether they lost something more important.
Relief ace Gregg Olson, who had just come in to pitch the ninth inning of the Orioles' 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, left the game after throwing five pitches. He winced after a strike that made the count 3-2 on Lance Johnson and, after an additional practice pitch, left the mound in obvious discomfort.
After Olson's departure, Todd Frohwirth was summoned. After giving up a single to Johnson on his first pitch, Frohwirth got three straight outs for his third save.
Charlie Hough (4-5) was the loser,giving up eight hits and five runs, including home runs by Glenn Davis, his sixth, and Joe Orsulak, his second. Orsulak's homer broke the second tie of the game in the eighth inning, when Brady Anderson drove in an insurance run with a single.
"It's tough to beat him [Hough] late in the game like that," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "Early in the game, he throws knuckleball after knuckleball, especially to the guys that drive in runs. If you don't get him, then you're in trouble because after that he starts making you think. He mixes his pitches and you'll think knuckleball, but he'll strike you out with that 70-mile-per-hour fastball."
Alan Mills (7-1), whose entry into a game has been almost magical this year, was credited with the win, working one hitless inning in relief of starter Mike Mussina.
Mussina went the first seven innings, giving up eight hits and the three Chicago runs, all of which were driven in by catcher Ron Karkovice. "My stuff wasn't that great," said Mussina, one of the leading candidates for the American League All-Star pitching staff that will be announced today. "I could have pitched better."
The game, which was delayed for 17 minutes at the start, featured a 1-hour, 5-minute rain delay in the middle of the second inning.
Last night's pairing was a rematch of Mussina's major-league debut in Chicago last Aug. 4, when he lost a 1-0 decision to Hough on a Frank Thomas home run. Hough made his professional debut in 1966, two years before his mound rival was born and won his first big-league game in 1973, when Mussina was only 4.
The Orioles gave Mussina an early lead to work with, but the White Sox constantly kept the pressure on with at least one hit in six of the first seven innings, and Hough's knuckler became more effective after the rain delay.
Anderson and Mike Devereaux opened the first inning with back-to-back singles that put runners on first and third with none out. The Orioles fared better than they have in such situations recently, but not in textbook fashion.
Anderson scored when shortstop Craig Grebeck turned Cal Ripken's sharp bouncer into a double play. However, before the inning was defused, Davis hit his home run, giving Mussina a 2-0 lead.
That advantage was threatened immediately, but Mussina survived his first threat of the long evening. A one-out single by Lance Johnson and a double by Steve Sax, both to left field, put runners on second and third with one out.
At that point, Mussina won a duel with Grebeck, his only strikeout victim of the night, and got Karkovice to fly out to end the inning.
Three innings and the rain delay later, Grebeck and Karkovice evened the score. Karkovice followed Grebeck's leadoff single with his sixth home run, a towering shot to left that tied the score 2-2.
It stayed that way only until the Orioles scored an unearned run on a "two-wall" triple by Jeff Tackett. Bill Ripken reached first on third baseman Robin Ventura's error with two outs to set up the tie-breaking run.
Tackett followed with a high fly down the right-field line that bounced high off the synthetic warning track that surrounds the field. Instead of bouncing into the stands, which usually has been the case in the new park, the ball glanced off both walls that adjoin the right-field pole in foul territory.
While Dan Pasqua scrambled to get the ball, Ripken circled the bases and Tackett breezed into third with his first triple of the season.
A wild pitch in the seventh inning, his last, cost Mussina (9-3) a chance for his 10th win. Sax led off with a single, went to second on Grebeck's sacrifice bunt, and to third when Mussina bounced a wild pitch past Tackett. Karkovice then drove in his third run of the night with a sacrifice fly that tied it 3-3.
- White Sox-Orioles scoring Orioles first: Anderson singled to right. Devereaux singled to center, Anderson to third. C.Ripken grounded into double play, shortstop Grebeck to second baseman Sax to first baseman Thomas, Anderson scored, Devereaux forced at second. G.Davis homered to left on 2-2 count. Milligan walked. Orsulak flied out to center fielder Johnson. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 2, White Sox 0.