O's find fitting cap for wild win 1st just game away as Plunk bounces another shot at Devo

August 09, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

It's a tossup as to which is more difficult to explain -- the Orioles' seventh straight win or the Cleveland Indians' third straight loss.

Both occurred at Camden Yards yesterday, when a sacrifice fly by Mike Devereaux in the 11th inning enabled the Orioles to beat the Indians, 7-6. It marked the sixth time in the streak they have come from behind to win, and left the Orioles, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees one game behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. Toronto lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-2, last night.

Yesterday's game was hardly a routine effort on either side. The game was highlighted by the unusual and the unexpected.

The Indians managed to score a run from second base on both a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch, and Sandy Alomar homered in his second straight game after coming off the disabled list. For the Orioles, Mark McLemore, who has nine home runs in his career, hit his second in a week, and Mark Parent, playing only his third game of the season, hit a three-run shot in the eighth inning.

But, in a game in which both teams blew late leads, it may have been the memory of losing pitcher Eric Plunk (4-4) that played the pivotal role. After McLemore doubled with one out in the 11th, his seventh hit in the last two games, Plunk got two quick strikes on Devereaux.

"He might have been thinking about the pitch he threw on Devo's last at-bat last year," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. In that game, Oct. 1, Devereaux hit an 0-2 pitch for a game-tying homer in the ninth. "It was a hanging slider."

The third pitch to Devereaux yesterday was a slider, but it wasn't a hanger. Instead, it bounced in the dirt for a wild pitch that allowed McLemore to move to third, from where he scored on the sacrifice fly.

"The wild pitch," said Oates, "was a big offensive weapon in this game."

It was a wild pitch from Mark Williamson that bounced high and allowed Albert Belle to score from second base with what looked like an insurance run in the eighth inning. However, the Orioles came back with four runs in their half of the inning, the last three on Parent's drive over the right-center-field fence, to overcome a 5-2 deficit.

That, however, did not signal the end for the Indians. With Gregg Olson having trouble getting loose, Williamson opened the ninth and gave up Thomas Howard's leadoff double.

"After pitching last [Saturday] night, he just couldn't get loose," said Oates. "I told him to keep throwing until he did."

Olson entered after a sacrifice bunt by Alvaro Espinoza that put the tying run on third with one out. Pitching without an effective curveball, Olson walked pinch hitter Reggie Jefferson, gave up a game-tying single to Alomar, threw a wild pitch and intentionally walked Kenny Lofton. "It was starting to look ugly," said Olson.

At that point, Olson's trademark pitch, the curve, came back. "It took long enough," he said, relieved that he only had to deal with a blown save (his sixth) and not a loss.

Wayne Kirby and Carlos Baerga hit ground balls, resulting in two force plays, the first at home plate. Todd Frohwirth (6-4) pitched the final two innings to get the win, aided by a sparkling double play started by first baseman David Segui on a grounder by Howard in the 10th.

Plunk, who replaced Derek Lilliquist in the ninth, struck out the side in the 10th before McLemore, the wild pitch and Devereaux finished him and the Indians in the 11th.

Both teams got good performances from their starting pitchers. Albie Lopez allowed the Orioles two runs in six innings, and Jamie Moyer, who has not had much success at Camden Yards, was effective for most of his seven innings.

All of the damage against Moyer came on two balls that were hit over the fence by Belle and Alomar. Both produced a pair of runs -- even though Belle's drive was caught by McLemore, who leaped above the right-field barrier to intercept a potential three-run homer.

"When I hit the ground, I wasn't surprised that they both scored," said McLemore. "I know that Kirby [who was on second] can fly."

First base was open when Belle hit his long fly in the first inning, but Oates said he didn't contemplate an intentional walk. "I didn't want to do that [load the bases], not in the first inning," he said.

From then on, Moyer pitched effectively, retiring 11 in a row at one point, until Alomar followed a two-out single by Felix Fermin in the seventh inning with his blast into the upper-deck bullpen in left-center field to break a 2-2 tie.

The Orioles appeared out of it when Belle, who had doubled with two outs, scored on Williamson's wild pitch an inning later. As it turned out, the game had a couple more turning points to endure before Devereaux ended it.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now, especially at home," said Oates. "We just have to keep winning as many as we can, because it's going to take a lot of them to stay in this thing."

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