Orioles throw off Tigers, 6-2 Moore's errant toss, Sutcliffe eight-hitter spur 16th win in 19

June 24, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Of the 122 pitches thrown by Mike Moore last night at Camden Yards, two of them left the playing field in fair territory.

But home runs by Chris Hoiles and Cal Ripken combined didn't do any more damage than one seemingly routine throw by the Detroit right-hander that went astray en route to home plate.

The errant toss by Moore in the third inning gift-wrapped three unearned runs for the Orioles, who used them as a springboard for a 6-2 win. It was the second straight win over the Tigers for the Orioles, who moved to within six games of first place with their 16th victory in the past 20 games.

The three unearned runs plus the home runs by Hoiles (No. 12) and Ripken (8) were enough for Rick Sutcliffe to record his sixth straight win (over 10 starts) . The veteran, who celebrated his 37th birthday the day before, adroitly spaced eight hits while going nine innings for the first time this season.

Moore didn't allow more than one hit an inning until the eighth, when Ripken's two-run homer set up his departure. But the right-hander's third-inning miscue left him in a hole too deep for escape.

It was Sutcliffe's first complete game since last July 30 (a 5-2 loss to Minnesota) and the first against the Tigers since the Twins' John Smiley blanked them, 1-0, last Aug. 26. The win was the eighth straight at Camden Yards for the Orioles, the longest since their nine-game streak early last season. In addition, the loss kept the Tigers winless in the Orioles' second-year home, running their losing streak to nine.

Sutcliffe was pitching for the first time in eight days after serving a suspension for his part in the brawl against Seattle June 6. "It felt weird not being able to be down here [during the games]," said Sutcliffe. "When you can't contribute, you just feel like you're getting in the way."

If there was a turning point in the game for Sutcliffe, besides the play by Moore, it came in the fifth inning. That's when he struck out Travis Fryman, who had doubled and walked in his previous two plate appearances and hit a three-run homer the night before.

"After he struck out Fryman with some really nasty sliders, he seemed to be in control from there," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "He made some pitches when he had to."

Sutcliffe went into the game with an average of 14.8 base runners per nine innings -- tied with Minnesota's Kevin Tapani for the highest ratio among AL starters. He didn't do much to lower his ranking as the Tigers managed 11 base runners.

But except for a run in the first inning and another in the ninth, he kept the Tigers away from the only base that really counts. He got a break when Cecil Fielder hit a rocket line drive to Harold Reynolds at second base for the third out in the third inning, with two runners on base.

He was in a similar situation, first and third and two outs, when Fryman came to the plate in the fifth. "That was just about the time my slider was starting to come around," said Sutcliffe. "I tried to make it look like a fastball, and it was the best one I'd thrown up to that point.

"It's a pitch I've been struggling with lately. Instead of an out pitch, I've been getting into trouble with it. That was probably the key pitch of the game for me."

The turning point in the game for Moore had come in the top half of theinning. A pair of walks and a long single by Mark McLemore left the bases loaded for Ripken. His comebacker to the mound was more than even Moore could have hoped for -- a potential double play that looked as easy as 1-2-3.

But he wasn't able to pull it off, his throw sailing into a different ZIP code than the one occupied by catcher Mickey Tettleton. The throw went untouched to the backstop, then caromed back to Tettleton.

Jack Voigt scored easily on the play and Reynolds also was able to dive under the tag of Moore, who was late covering home plate. "I have never done that before," Moore said later.

"That is a pitcher's dream, to have the bases loaded and have a comebacker hit to you. There was no excuse for that. I just screwed it up and threw the ball away."

Standing on first base when the play was over, Ripken felt like someone who had gotten a reprieve. "That [hitting the ball back to the pitcher] is the last thing you want to do," he said. "Even if you hit the ball up the middle, you still get a run."

Sutcliffe avoided his last threat in the seventh, after giving up singles to Scott Livingstone and Dan Gladden. "If [Tony] Phillips had gotten on base, then [Brad] Pennington would've pitched to [Lou] Whitaker," said Oates. "At that point, I couldn't let the game get away -- not the way our bullpen has pitched."

Phillips flied out, Whitaker grounded out and an inning later Sutcliffe had two more runs on the board -- enough insurance to allow him to finish.

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