O's get even (.500) with 9th straight, bop Red Sox, 16-4 Mussina wins 9th

Ripken gets 5 RBI

June 12, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Johnny Oates chewed hard on his lucky gum wad again last night and got the desired result. The Orioles won their ninth in a row. The sugar content of his superstitious snack was not available at press time, but it could not have been as sweet as the lopsided 16-4 victory that boosted the Orioles to .500 for the first time this year.

Oates is not the superstitious type and he definitely is not a regular gum-chewer, but he popped a piece into his mouth on June 2 and a bad habit was born. The Orioles have won every game since.

"I saw myself on television the other day, and I said to myself, 'What a disgusting man you are chomping on that gum like a cow chews his cud,' " said the straight-laced but no longer long-faced manager. "I've got to stop."

Not right away, however. Not after Cal Ripken drove in a season-high five runs with a home run, a double and a single last night. Not after the Orioles turned in their most productive offensive performance since 1989 and evened their record at 30-30. Not after Mike Mussina registered his league-leading ninth victory.

The magic gum was displayed proudly on Oates' desk after the game, and he was threatening to chew the same piece today, but he'll likely stick with tradition and go to a new stick.

This winning streak might start all of Baltimore on the road to tooth decay. The Orioles were at their low point 10 days ago -- nine games below sea level -- but they have come back to balance the books and put a new face on what was beginning to look like a lost season.

Ripken, who said before the game that he nearly ended his consecutive games streak on Monday because of a sore knee, looked as healthy as he has in the past season and a half. He broke the game open with a three-run homer in the fourth inning and drove home single runs with a single and a double on the way to his biggest offensive performance since he had five RBI against the Detroit Tigers during the final days of his MVP season in 1991.

"It's been a pretty big struggle all year, so it feels good to get a few hits," said Ripken, who entered the game batting .215.

"That might have been a Fenway Park home run, but I'll take anything at this stage."

The Orioles' offense had not been particularly explosive during the first eight games of the winning streak, averaging 4.9 runs per game, but they made up for it with a 16-hit assault that sent the Red Sox to their sixth straight loss. The 16 runs were the most the Orioles have scored since they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 16-6, on June 27, 1989.

It was good time to come alive, because Mussina was not entirely himself, giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings before leaving with a comfortable lead. He improved his record to 9-2 and remained on schedule for a possible start in the All-Star Game.

"Moose really had a tough time," Oates said. "He just couldn't get comfortable out there. You look up and see seven runs on the board [in the fourth inning] with Mike Mussina out there and you click your heals, but we were wondering how we were going to get him through five innings."

The Orioles couldn't do anything against Red Sox starter John Dopson when he faced them at Camden Yards on May 10, but they sent him packing last night in a six-run fourth inning that broke open a close game.

Mike Devereaux doubled off the scoreboard in left field to give the Orioles the lead in the first inning, but the Red Sox came back at Mussina in the second on a two-run double by shortstop John Valentin. That early three-hit rally was the first indication that the Orioles' steady right-hander was not on his game.

Dopson's performance disintegrated in the fourth, when he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up three straight hits to allow the Orioles to take the lead again. David Segui tied the score with a single through the right side of the infield, and Harold Reynolds followed suit to break the tie.

Dopson was removed after he hit Brady Anderson in the back with a curveball to load the bases, but the Red Sox's bullpen did not fare much better.

Right-hander Jose Melendez entered the game just long enough to give up two fly balls which, if laid end to end, might have reached the Prudential Building. Mark McLemore hit a drive to center field that would have been a grand slam if he had hit it anywhere but the deepest part of the park, but he got a 410-foot sacrifice fly out of it. Ripken followed with a drive to left field that landed in the netting above the Green Monster for his sixth home run and second three-run homer of the year.

"Cal is going to get his hits for you," Oates said. "He's going to be out there every day and he's always going to play good defense. Right now, he and Brady Anderson are a lot alike. They aren't too impressive average-wise, but they both have gotten some big hits for us."

The six-run inning equaled the largest of the season by the Orioles, who tried to match it again in the fifth. They scored five and equaled their largest single-game offensive performance -- 12 runs against the Kansas City Royals on April 30 -- before the inning was over.

Third baseman Leo Gomez started the fifth with a ground-rule double and scored when Valentin scooped up a ground ball by Chris Hoiles and threw it into the Boston dugout. Segui followed with his second hit, and Reynolds drove in his second run with a ground-rule double.

The Orioles might have scored only two runs there, but Red Sox third baseman Scott Cooper fielded a one-out chopper by McLemore and hit Segui with his throw to the plate. Segui and Reynolds scored on the play, and McLemore went to second. Ripken hit a sharp single to left to drive home the Orioles' 12th run. He later doubled in the seventh to run his club-leading RBI total to 28.

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