Langston 1-ups Mussina in 2-1 pitching gem Lefty loses no-hitter in 7th, but not game

August 26, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The Orioles could not have asked for much more from right-hander Mike Mussina last night, but they could not have gotten much less from California Angels pitcher Mark Langston.

Mussina's solid performance was overshadowed by the awesome command of Langston, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out nine in a 2-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Langston pitched eight innings and gave up just one hit to earn his 13th victory and push the struggling Orioles 6 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.

The sellout crowd of 46,624 may have gone home disappointed, but nobody was cheated out of an entertaining evening. Langston kept the suspense building for a couple of hours before Cal Ripken broke up the no-hitter with a solid single to lead off the seventh. The Orioles broke up the shutout, but lost for the third time in four games.

Mussina (12-5) worked eight innings and gave up two runs on six hits, only to suffer his first loss since July 2 and a bruised left wrist, too.

Langston carried the one-hitter through eight, but Angels manager Buck Rodgers brought on reliever Mike Butcher to bring the game to an exciting finish.

This is just what the Orioles didn't need. They have managed a total of four hits in the first two games of the series against the Angels and have to be thankful they are not on the brink of a three-game sweep.

They managed just two hits off left-hander Chuck Finley on Tuesday night, but Jamie Moyer combined with reliever Alan Mills on a four-hit, 1-0 shutout. This time, the Orioles took advantage of a throwing error by Langston to score a run in the seventh and threatened to come from behind against Butcher in the ninth, but David Segui struck out with runners at first and third to end the game.

"I think that both of their guys pitched very well," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "They are two of the quality left-handed pitchers in the league. I thought Finley pitched better last night and I thought Langston threw better tonight. He had great stuff, judging from the number of pitches we swung at out of the strike zone.

"I'll tell you what, you don't want either of them getting you to two strikes."

Mussina still is working his way back into shape after nearly a month on the disabled list with back and shoulder soreness, but he was effective in his second start since his return to the major-league rotation.

He came back Friday night to pitch a solid six innings (91 pitches) in a 10-5 victory over the Texas Rangers, but admitted afterward he felt like it was a spring training start. This time, Mussina looked far more comfortable on the mound, even if he could not get comfortable with Langston dominating the Orioles.

"Sometimes you throw poorly and win and sometimes you pitch well and lose," Mussina said. "I threw well, Mark threw better and that was the story of the game."

The Angels took advantage of the speed at the top of their batting order to take the lead with a run in the third inning. Mussina allowed a leadoff walk to Gary DiSarcina, and two force plays later, Luis Polonia stole second to set up an RBI single by Chad Curtis.

It was not exactly a rocky inning for Mussina. He walked the first batter, but he would have gotten out of the inning if second baseman Harold Reynolds could have come up cleanly with the throw on Polonia's steal. The ball arrived in time, but it squirted between Reynolds' glove and the dirt as Polonia slid past. Not an unforgivable play, but an unfortunate one for the Orioles under the circumstances.

TTC "All I can say is that Harold thought he should have caught it," Oates said.

Langston already was on a roll. He cut through the Orioles' lineup with precision in the middle innings, faltering only to hand out an occasional walk during his first two passes through the batting order.

He struck out seven through five innings, bearing out the grim statistics that Oates used to explain his all-right-handed lineup.

Oates kept left fielder Brady Anderson on the bench because he had two hits and 10 strikeouts in 25 career at-bats against the veteran left-hander. Harold Baines also sat out with a .138 lifetime average and 12 strikeouts.

"He has 69 career strikeouts against our roster," Oates said before the game. "I don't know of anybody who has more strikeouts against our lineup, unless it's somebody like Jack Morris who has been around for a long time."

Langston came into the game with three wins in his past four decisions and a 2.98 ERA that ranked him third in the AL. It only took a look at his wicked curveball to see why he continues to be one of the game's most effective left-handers.

While the suspense continued to build for Langston, Mussina tried to keep the game close enough for a possible late rally, but the infield hit by Polonia in the sixth would hurt him in more ways than one.

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