Arthur Rhodes made his third consecutive impressive start, and the Orioles backed him with a five-run outburst in the sixth inning to beat the Texas Rangers, 9-2, in a rain-shortened game last night at Camden Yards.
Rhodes (2-0) gave up a home run to Jeff Frye to start the game, but allowed only five hits the rest of the way to record his first
major-league complete game. The contest, played in a steady rain from the fourth inning on, was halted after a 46-minute rain delay that followed the bottom of the eighth, when the Orioles padded their lead with two runs.
It was the first complete game by an Orioles left-hander since Jeff Ballard did it Sept. 24, 1989, in a loss against the New York Yankees. Ballard also was the last left-hander to go the distance in a victory, Aug. 21, 1989, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rhodes, who was winless in eight appearances after his promotion from Double-A Hagerstown last year, was making his 11th major-league start. He has given up two runs in each of his three starts this year, a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins and a no-decision in the Orioles' 3-2 win at Texas on Sunday.
"There is no comparison between the three games he [Rhodes] has pitched this year and what we saw last year," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "He still has a lot of work to do, but he's got a lot more polish.
"He's around the plate now. Last year, we were hoping he'd throw a strike. Not only was he around the plate [last night], but he did it with good stuff," said Oates. "He was throwing 92-93 mph most of the night."
In breaking a three-game losing streak, the Orioles erupted for 14 hits against Todd Burns (2-3) and four Texas relievers.
Extra-base hits by Bill Ripken, Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux, plus a sacrifice fly by Jeff Tackett and a run-scoring single by Glenn Davis, enabled the Orioles to wipe out a 2-1 deficit in the sixth inning.
Rhodes had a less-than-impressive start, as Frye hit the game's third pitch for his first major-league home run. Two innings later, Frye set up another run with a one-out double after a walk to Al Newman.
Brian Downing followed with an infield hit, but Rhodes got Rafael Palmeiro and Ruben Sierra on grounders to end the inning and was troubled only once thereafter.
"After the home run, I just tried to settle down," said Rhodes. "You can't get down on yourself because of one run. I looked at the home run, got a ball back from the umpire and went at it."
The Orioles missed an opportunity in the second, when Davis was thrown out trying to score from second on Bill Ripken's infield hit. Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez suffered a strained left knee and a laceration of the left thigh that did not require stitches.
Rodriguez left the game an inning later, which didn't make Rangers manager Toby Harrah feel any better. "You don't see many slides like that," said Harrah. "Most of us learned to slide in little league. He [Rodriguez] took a good shot in the thigh area, and that's a long way from where [Davis] should be."
The Orioles scored in the third. Tackett led off with a single to right and Anderson became the first of three Orioles to be hit by a pitch.
Devereaux flied out, but Cal Ripken lined a single to left, scoring Tackett before Davis and Milligan each struck out.
With rain falling steadily, Rhodes had to weather a threat by the Rangers in the sixth. Downing and Palmeiro singled, but Leo Gomez turned Sierra's grounder into a force at third.
Rhodes then sandwiched a walk to Dean Palmer between strikeouts of Juan Gonzalez and Geno Petralli, and the Orioles took charge in the bottom half. Randy Milligan walked and Joe Orsulak singled before Gomez took a third strike for the first out.
The Orioles tried a hit-and-run play on the first pitch to Bill Ripken, but the Rangers weren't fooled. Burns threw a pitchout, but Ripken managed to foul the pitch off. As the inning developed, that may have been the key play.
Ripken followed with a double to left-center field, driving in the tying run. Tackett's sacrifice fly gave the Orioles the lead and, after a mound conference between Harrah and Burns, Anderson doubled to right-center field.
"He [Burns] wanted Anderson really bad and he told me that," said Harrah. "He was in good control up until that point. He has pitched so well, and I have a lot of confidence in him, so I let him try and get Anderson.
"Once I changed pitchers, the flood gates really opened."
Mike Devereaux greeted Danilo Leon with a triple and, after Cal ** Ripken was hit with a pitch, Davis singled to drive in the fifth run of the inning.
With Floyd Bannister pitching in the seventh, Orsulak singled and Gomez was hit with a pitch. After Bill Ripken's sacrifice, Tackett's walk and Anderson's sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a hefty five-run lead.
The barrage continued in the eighth, when Terry Mathews walked Davis with one out and gave up a single to Milligan. Left-hander Kenny Rogers replaced Mathews and gave up a single to Orsulak and a sacrifice fly to Gomez, making it 9-2.
At that point, crew chief Rich Garcia suspended play and, after a delay of 46 minutes, the game was called.
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Time: 3 p.m.
Rangers starter: Bobby Witt (8-7, 3.71)
Orioles starter: Rick Sutcliffe (10-9, 4.19)
TV: Channels 11, 9
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)
Tickets: Sold out, except for 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.