Orioles take 8th in row as Moyer gets long-lost win Red Sox fall, 2-1, turn over 4th place

June 11, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Jamie Moyer had been a lot of places in search of his next major-league victory. He had worn six different uniforms -- three major-league and three minor-league -- since he had last won at this level on Sept. 15, 1990.

So, it was a little odd that when Moyer finally ended that 33-month drought last night, it would happen in a place that is particularly unforgiving to a soft-throwing left-hander of his style.

Moyer obviously was not intimidated by the Green Monster or any of the other unusual characteristics of Fenway Park. He gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings and got a big assist from the bullpen as the Orioles ran their winning streak to eight with a 2-1 victory.

How unlikely this whole scenario would have seemed 12 days ago, when the Orioles were nine games under .500 and fading out of the picture in the American League East. Last night, they leapfrogged over the Red Sox and into fourth place. Tonight, they need only a routine performance by right-hander Mike Mussina to reach .500 for the first time this season.

How unlikely indeed. The Orioles are the hottest team in %J baseball. The eight-game streak is the longest in the American League this year and the longest by the club since the "Why

Not?" season of 1989.

Left-hander Frank Viola tried to bring it to an end with a solid performance last night, but he faltered in a two-run fifth inning and that was enough. Moyer worked into the sixth. Todd Frohwirth held the one-run lead through the seventh. Jim Poole pitched a scoreless eighth and Gregg Olson finished to record his 16th save.

Credit a save also to Mike Devereaux and Harold Reynolds, who teamed up on a relay from deep center field that cut down the tying run at the plate in the seventh inning. Bob Zupcic doubled off the wall, but Devereaux got a perfect carom and hit Reynolds at second base. Reynolds spun around and threw a strike to the plate to get Luis Rivera trying to score from first.

Devereaux actually overthrew the primary cutoff man -- Cal Ripken -- but all's well that ends well. Yes, it has been a good month.

"That's one of those things that happens for you when things are going well," manager Johnny Oates said. "The ball comes off the wall right into Devo's hand. Two weeks ago, it probably would have hit his feet and rolled into center field and Zupcic would have scored."

Two weeks ago, the Orioles did not know how quickly things could turn around, but they parlayed a perfect homestand into a prime opportunity to get back into the division race.

"I can't say that I knew this was going to happen," Oates said, "but I said then that something like this would have to happen. What we needed was six or seven wins in a row. I knew that we couldn't keep playing .500 ball or we were going to end up nine games under .500."

Moyer is supposed to be the weakest link in the Orioles' starting rotation, but he gave the club a solid performance for the fourth time in his five starts, taking a shutout into the fifth inning as he waited for the offense to come to life.

He had been a victim of circumstance enough to wonder if that was ever going to happen, but the Orioles finally scored two runs in the fifth inning to give him a lead for the first time in his Orioles career.

That's right. In his previous four starts, he had never pitched with a lead, which explains how he could give up two runs or fewer in three of his first four starts and still arrive at Fenway looking for his first victory.

"There have been games that I could have won if we had gotten a hit here or there," he said, "but I try not to dwell on things that vTC are behind me. The only thing I can do is try to be competitive and keep the club in the game. That's what we have been doing as a staff."

Moyer came into the game with an 0-3 record and a 4.57 ERA, but remove a 1 2/3 -inning performance in which he gave up seven earned runs to the California Angels and his ERA would have been an impressive 1.80. That's the only truly bad start he has had at any level since Opening Day. He was 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA at Triple-A Rochester before he was called up May 20 to take the place of injured Arthur Rhodes.

"This has been a tough road for me," he said. "I've been battling back the past couple of years and people keep saying you're too old [30] and you can't pitch. It's all been so negative, so I've tried very hard to be positive. That's what has been so good about being in this organization. I can honestly say that never in this organization has anyone said that to me."

He may have been more impressive in the early innings of last night's game than at any time in his previous Orioles starts. Moyer held the Red Sox to a few singles through four innings before Mo Vaughn opened the fifth with a long home run to center field.

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