Rhodes is rocky, but O's win, 8-6 Left-hander wild upon return from DL

August 05, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

About the only thing Arthur Rhodes will want to remember about his 30th start in the big leagues is the bottom line.

The erratic left-hander, making his first start since May 9, made a tenuous return to the Orioles' rotation last night. He allowed two hits and one run during five innings of the Orioles' 8-6 win over RTC the Milwaukee Brewers, but his outing was far from routine.

It was marked by defensive gems that possibly prevented an early blowout by the Brewers. And it featured another offensive explosion by the Orioles, and a late scare by the Brewers.

On the disabled list since May 18 because of arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose fragment on his left knee, Rhodes struggled from the outset.

"But he got through five innings with two hits and one run -- and that's the bottom line," said manager Johnny Oates.

Mark McLemore and Mike Devereaux homered to lead a 10-hit attack, the 19th time in the past 25 games the Orioles have collected at least that many hits. That enabled Rhodes (2-2) to pick up his first win since April 28, though his pitching line was marred by seven walks and did not include a strikeout.

Mark Williamson replaced Rhodes to start the sixth inning and retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, allowing Greg Vaughn's 22nd homer. But the right-hander failed to record his first save of the year when he was removed after back-to-back singles to start the ninth inning.

Brad Pennington recorded two outs before giving up a grand slam to Kevin Seitzer. The scare became official when Gregg Olson gave up a double to B. J. Surhoff before getting Vaughn to ground out on a 3-0 pitch to record his 28th save.

Cal Eldred (11-12) took the brunt of the Orioles' offense, allowing nine hits and all eight runs in six innings. Like Rhodes, Eldred experienced control trouble, giving up seven walks (one intentional) to go with four strikeouts.

After six starts during his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester, the scouting report on Rhodes was that his control was inconsistent. But that was hardly the case during the first two innings last night -- when he was consistently wild.

Of the first eight batters he faced, Rhodes walked six. Howeverby the second inning, the Brewers had just one run to show for it.

Rhodes went through the Milwaukee lineup twice withouallowing a hit -- but it took only four innings to face those 18 batters. And he needed some spectacular defensive help to survive.

"We wanted his pitch limit to be around 100," said Oates, "anafter the first two innings it looked like he was going to get there pretty quick. But he was able to get through five innings and that is what we expected of him."

After walks to four of the first five hitters had given the Brewers 1-0 lead, Tom Brunansky hit a liner toward left field. But third baseman Tim Hulett made a leaping catch and doubled Vaughn off second to end the inning.

"Timmy gave me a lift, kept me out of a big inning," said Rhodes. "After that I just told myself to settle down.

"I was all hyped up at the start, and maybe a little nervous. I just had to get the ball down and try to get some ground balls."

McLemore's two-run homer, a double by Devereaux and a single by Harold Baines gave Rhodes a 3-1 lead that stood until he left after five. Rhodes was on the verge of an early exit again in the second, when he walked the first two batters and Dave Nilsson followed with a sharp bouncer between short and third. Again, Hulett was involved in the pivotal play.

The ball deflected off his glove, but was retrieved by shortstop Cal Ripken. Hulett had alertly retreated to third base and was able to get back in time to take Ripken's hurried throw for the first out. Thereafter, Rhodes established a reasonable relationship with the strike zone.

The Brewers finally got into the hit column in the fifth, but a pair of doubles weren't enough to produce a run. Juan Bell extended his hitting streak to 11 games when he led off with a double, but it went for naught when he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. It rendered Surhoff's two-out double meaningless.

At that point, with Rhodes through for the night, the lack of

control shifted to Eldred. For the second straight night, the Orioles managed to score four runs in an inning on just two hits.

Eldred walked Devereaux and Baines to start the inning, setting the table for doubles by Ripken and Harold Reynolds, the latter after an intentional walk to Hulett.

"You never like the guy hitting ahead of you to be walked intentionally," said Reynolds. "I just got a pitch I could handle."

Eldred was lifted after the sixth inning, following Devereaux' sixth homer. The game appeared to be in hand at that point, with the Orioles leading 8-1.

But the Brewers didn't stop with Vaughn's eighth-inning homer, and they made it interesting by scoring four runs in the ninth.

"Willie [Williamson] threw the ball exceptionally well," said Oates. "If everything went well, he would've finished."

But two singles chased Williamson, and when it was over he and Rhodes had one consolation in common: the bottom line, a victory.

RHODES' LINE

The figures on Arthur Rhodes' performance last night:

Innings .. .. 5

Pitches .. ..91

Strikes .. ..42

Balls.. .. ..49

Hits .. .. .. 2

Earned runs ..1

Strikeouts .. 0

Walks .. .. ..7

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