Road show comes home winner O's top Indians, 6-3

1st-place Tigers next

June 21, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- They had to weather two rain delays and five pitching changes, but the Orioles put the finishing touches on a highly successful road trip with a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians yesterday.

This one wasn't pretty, as the Orioles gave away a run on a double steal in the first inning and failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity with nobody out in the seventh. But, because of their overall success on the trip, the final victory carried extra satisfaction.

"I would say 7-3 is acceptable,"said manager Johnny Oates. "A couple of times we didn't play as well as we had for the last two or three weeks, but we were able to get the job done."

Yesterday, Chris Hoiles broke out of an 0-for-17 streak with three hits, including his ninth home run of the year, and Harold Reynolds delivered the biggest hit of the game, a two-out, two-run double to give the Orioles a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning.

"That's what we need," said Oates, whose team will play the first of three games against the AL East-leading Detroit Tigers

tomorrow night. "We need to keep getting contributions from everybody."

In the latest win, one of the biggest contributors was Jamie Moyer (3-3), whose work was largely overshadowed by the bullpen committee that followed him to the mound. Moyer was forced to warm up three times after the game started -- twice because of the rain delays, the other after Cleveland reliever Matt Young went down with a sprained knee in the fourth inning.

His up-and-down day may have been a factor in Moyer only being able to pitch 5 1/3 innings (five hits), but he proved resilient enough to win -- thanks to the five relievers who combined to shut out the Indians for the last 3 2/3 innings.

"I haven't been here that long, but I've seen nothing but positive things from our bullpen," said Moyer, who gave up two runs in the first but settled down to leave with a 4-3 lead. "I feel confident no matter who comes into the game."

Mark Williamson, Jim Poole, Todd Frohwirth and Brad Pennington each had to extricate the Orioles from threatening situations before Gregg Olson arrived to record his 19th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

In the sixth, it was Williamson who got a pair of ground outs after Albert Belle chased Moyer with a double that drove in a run and cut the Orioles' lead to one run. An inning later Alvaro Espinoza led off with a double, but the O's escaped again with the help of Poole.

Felix Fermin sacrificed Espinoza to third base, but pinch hitter Thomas Howard bunted the next pitch back to Williamson for an easy out and Poole struck out Kenny Lofton on a 3-and-2 pitch.

After the Orioles increased their lead to 5-3 on an RBI single by Leo Gomez, Poole walked Wayne Kirby to start the eighth inning, but got Carlos Baerga on a checked-swing strikeout. Frohwirth gave up a single to Belle, but got Carlos Martinez to foul out.

That signaled Pennington's entrance and the rookie left-hander continued his impressive performance in late-inning pressure by getting Reggie Jefferson to ground out. When the Indians made two errors to give the Orioles another run in the ninth, Olson had plenty of breathing space to close it out.

The rain delays in the second and third innings, plus the injury to Young, didn't seem to affect Moyer. "My idea was just to go as long as I could," he said. "It was hot out there and that probably helped. If we'd had these conditions in cold weather, I don't know if I could have lasted as long."

For Moyer, it was his third straight win after going the better part of three years without a victory while bouncing around the big leagues. "Sometimes it's the luck of the draw," he said. "And sometimes you just have to be lucky. There were times during those three years when I felt I pitched well enough win, but it didn't happen.

"It's just like Fernando [Valenzuela] right now," said Moyer. "He pitched a great game [in Saturday's 3-0 loss], but he has nothing to show for it. I feel for him, because I know what that's like."

In winning two out of three from the Indians, the Orioles won all three series on the trip -- three of four in Boston and two of three in Milwaukee -- and their sixth straight series overall. Even more impressive, they concluded a stretch where they played 20 of 26 games on the road with an 18-8 record (15-4 in the past 19 games).

"Our goal was to get to .500 by the time we got home," said Oates. "Now we're two games over, and we just have to try and go from there.

"The guys made a pact awhile ago to look at each series individually and try to win each one. That's what we've got to continue to do. We can't get ahead of ourselves," said Oates, whose team sits in fourth place, eight games out.

With the first-place Tigers up next, nobody has to worry about the Orioles looking beyond that series.

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