Rangers power past Mussina Gonzalez's 2 HRs spark 6-3 O's loss

April 13, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Juan Gonzalez hit two home runs last night as the Texas Rangers came from behind twice to beat the Orioles, 6-3.

Both of the home runs by Gonzalez, and another by backup catcher John Russell, came off Mike Mussina (0-1), who gave up eight hits and all of the Texas runs in seven innings. It marked only the 12th time in 46 career starts that Mussina has allowed more than three runs.

The home runs by Gonzalez, who led the major leagues with 43 last year at the age of 22, were the fourth and fifth he has hit off Mussina. The loss broke a seven-game winning streak for the Orioles right-hander, covering his last 10 starts and dating back to last Aug. 10, when he dropped an 8-4 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles had taken brief 1-0 and 3-2 leads against Charlie Leibrandt (1-0) in the early innings, but each time Mussina yielded the long ball. Gonzalez tied the game with his first homer in the second inning, Russell did the same with his fifth-inning blast and then Gonzalez applied the final blow with his two-run, game-winner in the sixth.

Leibrandt struggled through most of the six innings he worked, giving up eight hits, and then turned the game over to the Rangers' revamped bullpen. Right-hander Matt Whiteside and left-hander Bob Patterson took the game into the ninth inning, and Tom Henke picked up his fourth save by getting Mike Devereaux, representing the tying run, to hit into a game-ending double play.

The Orioles' first run came gift-wrapped in the second inning, but they missed an opportunity to inflict more serious damage. After Harold Baines led off with a double, Leibrandt used self-defense to snare a drive through the middle off the bat of Chris Hoiles for the first out.

Leo Gomez then lofted a soft fly to right field that fell for a single when Jose Canseco lost the ball in the dusk. With runners on first and third, Luis Mercedes struck out before Harold Reynolds and Brady Anderson drew back-to-back walks to force in a run.

The run was the first allowed by Leibrandt in 31 regular-season innings, dating back to last year, when he was with the Atlanta Braves. The left-hander finally got out of the inning by inducing Devereaux to hit a soft grounder on a 3-and-1 pitch for a forceout.

The early lead lasted only until Gonzalez got a chance to swing for the first time. He lined his fourth home run of the year into the seats in left-center field as the leadoff hitter in the bottom half of the inning.

Singles by Julio Franco and Russell were sandwiched around a strikeout by Dean Palmer, setting up a squeeze bunt by Bill Ripken that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

The Orioles struck for a pair of runs off Leibrandt in the fourth, but again missed a knockout opportunity. Hoiles opened with a double to left and went to third on a Gomez single.

With runners at the corners and nobody out, Mercedes popped to Ripken at second base. Reynolds then looped a single to left-center field, breaking an 0-for-14 streak and getting his first hit and RBI as an Oriole.

With the score tied, Anderson hit into a force, but Devereaux responded with a double into the left-field corner, scoring Gomez for a 3-2 lead. Cal Ripken was given an intentional walk but Glenn Davis, a strikeout victim in his first two at-bats, hit a tapper back to Leibrandt as the Orioles left the bases loaded for the second time.

Mussina had retired eight in a row when Russell led off the Rangers' fifth with a mammoth 413-foot home run to re-tie the score. It was Russell's first home run since June 11, 1990, at Oakland, the same game in which Nolan Ryan pitched the sixth of his seven career no-hitters.

An inning later, Mussina again was tormented by the long ball -- and again it came from the most familiar source in the American League. After Davis had gone hard to his left to take a double away from Rafael Palmeiro, Canseco grounded a single just out of the reach of Ripken at shortstop.

That set the stage for Gonzalez to take over the major-league home run leadership. His second of the game, and fifth of the year, was another prodigious blast into the left-center field seats, this one carrying 407 feet and giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead.

A single by Bill Ripken, a sacrifice bunt by Benji Gil, an error by Ripken when Davis came off the bag to take the throw, and TC sacrifice fly by Palmeiro gave the Rangers an unearned run and a 6-3 lead in the seventh inning.

The Orioles had one last offensive gasp left, but it was quickly dismissed by Henke. Mercedes led off the ninth with a double into the right-field corner and Reynolds followed with a bunt single, putting runners on first and third with nobody out.

Patterson, who relieved Whiteside to start the eighth, stayed in the game to strike out Anderson, then turned the game over to Henke. After missing with his first two pitches, the former Toronto closer evened the count at 2-and-2 and then got Devereaux to hit a routine double-play ball to Gil and seal the Orioles' fifth loss in six games.

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