Rhodes, Parent tame Tigers, 4-1 Orioles half-game out after 8th straight win

August 10, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

DETRIOT — DETROIT -- The Orioles stretched their winning streak to eight last night and crept within a half-game of first place with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers, all because of a couple of guys who wouldn't quit.

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who was hobbled by a leg cramp throughout the game, stayed on the mound and gave up just three hits in eight innings to earn his second victory since returning from knee surgery.

Catcher Mark Parent, who had to be talked out of giving up baseball at the end of spring training, broke a scoreless tie with a two-run home run in the fifth as the Orioles took over sole possession of second place in the crowded American League East race.

If they make it to the playoffs, it will be -- in at least a small way -- because Parent was not the retiring type. He was crushed by the club's decision to option him to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings at the end of spring training, but he listened when manager Johnny Oates and teammate Rick Sutcliffe advised him to give the game one more chance.

Now, he's the one getting everyone's attention, with two big home runs in two days and seven RBI in five games since he was called up a week ago.

"When I sent him out, I said it would be a mistake to quit," Oates said. "I said, 'You've got to be the one to make the decision, but I get letters all the time from guys out of baseball who want to get in at any level of the game. So, you better think it through, because it's a whole lot easier to walk out that door than it is to walk in."

Sutcliffe chipped in his two cents worth and the Orioles made the situation more attractive by guaranteeing Parent's major-league salary if he agreed to go to the minors. It turned out to be a solid investment.

Rhodes (2-2) has come back strong, too. He wasn't all that impressive when he returned to the Orioles' rotation on Wednesday, but he was overpowering last night, missing a combined shutout only because reliever Alan Mills couldn't find the bag on a potential inning-ending, double-play relay in the bottom of the ninth.

"He [Rhodes] got the same challenge that he got in Seattle," Oates said. "Either throw strikes or we'll get somebody who can. I think he's getting the idea."

Oates was referring to a lecture he gave Rhodes last year in Seattle after a string of rocky performances. It seemed to do the trick then -- Rhodes threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners -- so he called Rhodes into his office yesterday and delivered a similar speech. It worked again.

The leg cramp became apparent in the fifth inning, soon after Parent had given the Orioles the lead. Rhodes walked off the mound and tried to stretch his calf, bringing pitching coach Dick Bosman and trainer Richie Bancells to the mound. But it obviously wasn't too debilitating.

"It was just a little cramp," Rhodes said. "I had to stretch it out before every inning, but you can't worry about that. You have to just go out and throw the ball."

None of the leading indicators had pointed to a low-scoring game, but Rhodes and Tigers starter Mike Moore traded shutout innings until the Orioles broke through for three runs in the fifth.

Rhodes was coming off a strange five-inning performance against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he gave up two hits and walked seven. He got the win, but brought an 8.10 ERA into a game against one of the league's most dangerous lineups.

Moore (8-6) was brought in during the off-season to anchor the Tigers' starting rotation, but he came into the game with an ERA (5.83) that didn't figure to frighten anyone in the rejuvenated Orioles batting order.

FTC He didn't give up a hit until Cal Ripken slapped a ground single to right field with two outs in the fourth inning. Rhodes carried a shutout into the ninth, his fastball sizzling and the rest of his pitches finding the strike zone.

"He came right at them and he beat them," Parent said. "He threw some good pitches. He was throwing his breaking ball for strikes and he got a couple of big outs on changeups."

The Orioles jumped on top in the fifth, when Tim Hulett beat out an infield single and Parent hit a towering shot off the billboard that adorns the facing of the second deck in left-center field. Brady Anderson followed with a drive to right-center that one-hopped the fence at the 415-foot marker for a triple. He scored the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Mark McLemore.

Parent continues to make a case for a more permanent place on the major-league roster. He was called up from Rochester when starting catcher Chris Hoiles was sidelined with a strained muscle in his back, ostensibly to share time with No. 2 catcher Jeff Tackett. Both have played -- and played well -- but Parent has driven in seven runs in five games to play a major role in the club's winning streak. That's as many runs as Tackett has driven in all year.

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