Chris Hoiles drove in two runs both before and after a rain delay of almost two hours last night as the Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-4, at Camden Yards.
The win enabled the Orioles to extend their season-high winning streak to six and move to within three games of .500 (27-30) for the first time since April 16 (3-6). The loss was the fourth in the past five starts and eighth in the past 10 games for the A's.
The game was delayed for an hour and 58 minutes in the fifth inning, shortly after the Orioles had wiped out a 2-0 Oakland lead with their first back-to-back home runs of the year. It was a long two-run shot by Hoiles, off left-hander Curt Young, that tied the game and David Segui followed with a bases-empty shot that gave the Orioles the lead for the first time.
Fernando Valenzuela pitched the first five innings for the Orioles, but it was Alan Mills (1-3) who earned the victory. Mills replaced Valenzue la after the delay and allowed three hits, including a two-run, pinch-hit homer by Mike Aldrete that tied the game in the seventh inning.
In the ninth, with the tying run at the plate, Gregg Olson got pinch hitter Dale Sveum for the final out to record his 15th save of the year and fourth in four games.
Ex-Oriole Storm Davis (1-5) was the loser, giving up three runs in 2 1/3 innings after replacing Young to start the fifth inning.
Hoiles provided the Orioles with their winning margin with a two-run double to right-center field in the bottom of the seventh. A throwing error by third baseman Craig Paquette, his second of the night, set the stage for the winning rally.
Cal Ripken reached base on the miscue and Mike Devereaux followed with a walk. The runners advanced on a slow roller by Leo Gomez and Hoiles then drilled an 0-and-1 pitch for the game-winner.
The A's had runners on base in each of the first five innings against Valenzuela, but the veteran left-hander managed to avoid a knockout. He got Rickey Henderson to hit into a double play to end the first inning, picked Lance Blankenship off first base in the third and then saw a line drive by Brent Gates turned into an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
In between the A's scratched out single runs in the second and fourth. Doubles by Ruben Sierra and Kevin Seitzer produced the first run and successive two-out singles by Terry Steinbach, Seitzer and Paquette made it 2-0 in the fourth.
Young had given up a couple of singles to Ripken and Hoiles in the second, but was breezing when the winds kicked up in the bottom of the fourth. With lightning surrounding the park and loud claps of thunder serving as advance warning for the impending storm, Gomez lined a single to left field with one out.
Hoiles followed with his eighth home run of the year, a towering fly ball into the left-center field seats that tied the score. Seconds later Segui duplicated Hoiles' blast with another high shot to the same vicinity, his third homer of the season.
It was obvious when the A's came to bat in the fifth that the game was only moments away from interruption. Valenzuela got Scott Hemond to foul out, but walked Blankenship to put the tying run on base.
On a 3-and-2 pitch, Blankenship was running when Gates lined a drive toward the right-center field gap. For an instant it looked as though the ball would get through for extra bases and tie the game, but Devereaux quickly cut off the angle and made a routine catch. Blankenship already had passed second base and was doubled up easily to end the inning.
After Young threw two pitches to Harold Baines in the bottom of the fifth, the skies stopped threatening and started producing heavy rain. Within minutes both dugouts were flooded and parts of the outfield were underwater.
The ensuing delay finished both Valenzuela and Young and subsequent events left neither involved in the decision. The Orioles added a run in the sixth when Davis walked Jack Voigt with the bases loaded, but the 4-2 lead lasted only until the next half-inning.
After Seitzer led off with his second double of the night, Mills retired the next two hitters, but Aldrete lofted an opposite-field homer to left, tying the score.