Mussina, Hoiles throw out win Orioles end skid, 3-2, as duo slows running Brewers to a walk

September 12, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The Milwaukee Brewers brought their vaunted running game to Oriole Park last night, but Mike Mussina and Chris Hoiles were laying in wait.

Mussina pitched a six-hitter and Hoiles gunned down two base runners as the Orioles defeated the Brewers, 3-2, in the opener of a three-game series that is critical to the division title hopes of both teams.

The victory was Mussina's fourth in a row and it broke a four-game losing streak for the Orioles, who cannot afford to fall any farther behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. Mussina did a lot of it himself, striking out eight and walking four to improve his record to 15-5.

"It's tough to compare, because he has thrown so many well-pitched games for us, but that was the best fastball I think Mike has had since he's been here," said manager Johnny Oates.

Hoiles had spent the past couple of days fielding questions about his inability to throw out runners, but the Brewers found him much better than advertised. He threw out Kevin Seitzer in the second inning and Rookie of the Year candidate Pat Listach in the fifth. Paul Molitor got credit for the only Milwaukee steal, and it came when he broke for second on a wild pitch.

Mussina also made things hard on the Brewers, though he allowed 10 runners to get on base.

"Mike used everything he had," Oates said. "He used a glide step. He faked to third. He was quick to the plate. That was the best job he's done with men on. Chris made a couple of great throws. He's been working with Rod [Elrod Hendricks]."

It was not a perfect evening by any means. The Orioles lost Sam Horn to injury in the second inning and almost lost Cal Ripken in the sixth. Horn strained a muscle in his side in his first at-bat. Ripken came up with a sore ankle after delivering a key hit in the two-run rally that would bring the Orioles from behind against Brewers right-hander Bill Wegman.

Glenn Davis drove in the tying run with an infield single and Joe Orsulak broke a 2-2 tie with a sharp single to center, but this was definitely a case of winning ugly.

Randy Milligan was thrown out trying to score from third on a no-out ground ball in the fourth inning and Ripken was thrown out trying to score from second with none out after two runs were across in the sixth.

Ripken had delivered a big double to set up the second run in that inning, but he had walk off the ankle soreness and convince Oates he was all right before the game continued. Nevertheless, third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr. waved him home on Orsulak's sharp single and he was out by at least 10 feet.

"We made some mistakes, but we got away with them," Oates said. "Every ballgame from here on out is important for us to win. We dug ourselves a little hole this week. We can't afford to let it get any deeper."

Mussina didn't let it. He had struggled through a difficult period in late July and early August, but has come back strong for the stretch run. He has won five of his past six games and appears to be throwing as well as he did at the start of the season.

"I feel much better than I did a month ago," he said. "That was my third or fourth good game in a row. I'm feeling a lot better than I did. I think the results show how I feel."

The Brewers arrived in town with a reputation for running their opponents ragged, which figured to be a problem for an Orioles team that has not done a good job holding runners on base. There was enough concern to prompt speculation that Hoiles might be moved into the designated hitter spot to make room for the supposedly more accurate arm of reserve Jeff Tackett.

But Oates, who had hinted at changes in the starting lineup after Wednesday night's loss to the New York Yankees, did not do anything that drastic. He moved Horn into the cleanup spot and dropped Ripken from fourth to fifth, but Hoiles was behind the plate and he remained in the bottom third of the lineup.

Hoiles had thrown out just nine of 65 potential base stealers, so he entered the game looking like a lamb ready for slaughter, but the Brewers quickly found out that he was not going to concede anything.

Listach walked to lead off the game, but Mussina did a good job of keeping him close to first base. Seitzer delivered Milwaukee's first hit in the second, but Hoiles gunned him down stealing to end the inning. Listach, who ranks third among American League base stealers (just behind Brady Anderson) would test Hoiles in the fifth inning with similar results.

Mussina was the first line of defense, though he worked with runners on base in four of the first five innings and allowed Listach to reach base in each of his first three at-bats. He still managed to keep the Brewers from taking any liberties on the bases and carried a shutout into the fifth inning.

The Brewers finally broke the scoreless tie without resorting to the running game. Seitzer led off the fifth with a double and moved around on a sacrifice bunt by B. J. Surhoff and a sacrifice fly by Scott Fletcher.

Wegman (12-13) also carried a shutout into the fifth and also let it get away, giving up three straight one-out singles to tie the game. Hoiles lined a ball over Listach at short and went to third on a single by Leo Gomez before Bill Ripken's looping single to left tied the game.

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