BOSTON — McDonald starting to get in groove
BOSTON -- There is still a matter of keeping things under control, but Ben McDonald is showing signs of emerging as the kind of dominant pitcher the Orioles expect him to be.
In four starts since the All-Star break, the 6-foot-7 right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA. He allowed on Orioles notebook
ly three hits, but walked five in the seven innings he worked in yesterday's 2-1 win over the Red Sox.
"I struggled a little bit, but I'm happy with the end result," said McDonald. "I made some big pitches when I had to get out of jams."
McDonald's most troublesome spot before giving up a run in the seventh inning came in the third, when John Valentin led off with a double and went to third on a ground ball by Wade Boggs.
McDonald responded by overmatching Billy Hatcher, who tormented the Orioles with five hits in the first three games of the series, striking him out, and then got Phil
Plantier to hit a soft pop fly, which McDonald caught.
"Those were RBI situations," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "He was able to reach back and get something extra."
By winning the last three against the Red Sox, the Orioles took a 6-3 lead in the season series. The Orioles finished the season 4-2 at Fenway Park and are 8-5 since the start of last year.
Before 1991, the Orioles had lost 16 of their previous 20 at Fenway.
The Red Sox wind up their longest homestand of the year, 14 games, with three games against the Toronto Blue Jays, starting tonight.
This was supposed to be the time the Red Sox got back in the race, but after losing seven of the first 11, they put themselves closer to last place than to third.
The three Orioles starters who are under 25 years old -- McDonald (24), Mike Mussina (23) and Arthur Rhodes (22) -- are a combined 24-11 with a 3.34 ERA. The Orioles have won all four games started by Rhodes, who faces the Detroit Tigers tonight.
In a pinch, the Orioles are getting better. After going through a 3-for-23 (.130) stretch, Orioles pinch hitters are 2-for-3 with four walks in their past seven plate appearances. . . Yesterday's crowd was 33,637. The total for the three-day, four-gate series was 128,520. Friday's day-night doubleheader drew a total of 61,897.
McDonald's second wind
Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald stumbled into the All-Star break with an 8-6 record, a 5.00 ERA and a league-leading 23 home runs allowed. A game-by-game look at McDonald's starts after the break, during which he has gone 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA:
Date .. Opp. .. .. W-L .. IP .. H .. ER .. HR
7/18 .. Texas . .. W . .. 9 ... 2 .. 0 ... 0
7/23 .. Texas . .. L . .. 7 1/3 .. 7 .. 4 ... 2
7/28 .. N.Y. .. .. W . .. 8 ... 8 .. 2 ... 0
8/2 ... Bos. .. .. W . .. 7 ... 3 .. 1 ... 0