There might have been a new look to the lineup, but it was still business as usual for Mike Devereaux and Brady Anderson as the Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics, 4-2, last night.
Cal Ripken moved to the fifth spot in the batting orderDevereaux moved to the shortstop's vacated third position and Randy Milligan was inserted as the No. 2 batter as manager Johnny Oates shook up a lineup that had lost five of its past seven games.
But though their positions may have changed, the names of thrun producers didn't. The Orioles moved to within two games of the AL East division-leading Toronto Blue Jays, who lost to the Minnesota Twins, 5-1.
Devereaux drove in two runs and Anderson and Gomez both hit home runs to account for the Orioles' runs.
Mike Mussina (12-5) made big pitches when he had to anpitched six innings to claim the win, only the second in his past seven starts. Alan Mills bailed Todd Frohwirth out of an eighth-inning jam to record his second save by finishing with two scoreless innings.
Kelly Downs (3-4), who dug himself an inescapable hole bwalking six in four-plus innings, was the loser. The A's lost for the third time in their past four games, and their lead over the Twins in the AL West was trimmed to five games.
"Every win we get from here on out is big," Oates said. "An each day we get closer is big."
The Orioles' shuffled lineup had no immediate impact oAnderson and Devereaux, who produced a run in the first inning for the third time in the past four games. The only difference was that it took three batters instead of two to account for the game's first run.
Anderson led off with the first of his three walks. He immediatelstole his 41st base and went to third on catcher Terry Steinbach's throwing error. After Milligan grounded out, Devereaux hit his team-high ninth sacrifice fly -- and second in his last two plate appearances, including Thursday afternoon's game-winner.
"I've been fortunate to have Brady in front of me all year long,Devereaux said about his RBI total (84). "And Randy has a great on-base percentage.
"I didn't make any changes or adjustments just because I was ithe No. 3 hole," said Devereaux, who drew two of the nine walks given up by the A's.
Gomez doubled the Orioles' pleasure, and their lead, with hi16th home run with nobody on base in the second. From that point on, however, it was a struggle for the Orioles.
Mussina, who lost 4-2 on May 20 in his only other careeappearance against the A's, survived a couple of early threats before Lansford hit his sixth home run with one out in the third. Rickey Henderson opened the game with a line drive to left field on which Anderson made an excellent play, holding the A's speedster to a single.
The importance of that play, and Mussina's ability to keerunners in check, was magnified when Lansford hit into a force before Henderson could attempt to steal. Jose Canseco struck out, and Harold Baines hit a grounder to second baseman Bill Ripken to end the inning.
Mark McGwire, who left the game two innings later with a straiin his right rib cage, singled to open the second, and Mike Bordick added a two-out single, but Walt Weiss popped up for the third out.
After Lansford's home run, Mussina retired five hitters before thA's put him on the ropes in the fifth. Bordick looped his second single to left-center field, then went to third when Weiss roped a hit-and-run line drive through the vacated hole between first and second.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, Mussina had to ghead to head with Henderson. In the most important at-bat for Mussina, the count went to 3-2 before Henderson had a weak swing for the third strike.
Bill Ripken then ranged far to his left to make a diving stop oLansford's bid for a base hit. Bordick scored the tying run on the play, but Canseco's fly to shallow right field ended what could have been a disastrous inning for the Orioles.
"I don't know how you get out of that situation with only one run,Oates said.
"He [Mussina] threw Rickey a nasty pitch."
It was obvious from Henderson's reaction that he was fooled othe pitch.
"I had thrown a fastball in to him earlier in that at-bat," Mussina said, "and then threw him a sinker."
The Orioles, who couldn't capitalize on two walks and a single ithe fourth, regained the lead in the fifth -- but missed an opportunity to take command. Bill Ripken led off with a single and Anderson and Milligan both walked, the latter on a 3-2 pitch that Downs thought was a strike.
When the first pitch to Devereaux also missed the strike zoneOakland manager Tony La Russa replaced Downs with right-hander Jim Corsi. Devereaux hit a slow bouncer that resulted in a force at second, and drove in the lead run.
But Sam Horn struck out and, after Cal Ripken walked, ChitMartinez grounded out, as the Orioles left the bases loaded for the second straight inning.
"Either team could have broken the game open in that [fifthinning," Oates said, "but neither could do it."