O's bargain players make Angels pay the price, 9-4 Voigt, McLemore lift O's past Angels, 9-4

August 27, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

All things considered, it was a pretty good day for the Orioles' front office.

The club's conservative management philosophy was the subject of scrutiny again when the Atlanta Braves appeared to be on the verge of acquiring veteran pitcher Dennis Martinez yesterday, but general manager Roland Hemond had to be smiling after the Orioles scored a 9-4 victory over the California Angels at Camden Yards.

Home-grown utility man Jack Voigt delivered a tie-breaking pinch single in the eighth inning and one-time minor-league free agent Mark McLemore had four hits and three RBI in a comeback victory that allowed the Orioles to take the deciding game of the three-game series.

Hemond has been criticized for the limited scope of his off-season personnel hunt and the club's seeming reluctance to trade for a big-ticket player for the stretch run, but yesterday's events seemed to vindicate that approach.

Late-season acquisition Mike Pagliarulo hit a home run in the third inning and designated hitter Harold Baines, who signed a one-year contract in the off-season, sliced a two-run, opposite-field homer in the seventh to rally the Orioles. What else could go right?

Voigt and McLemore delivered the biggest blows in a five-run eighth that loosened a tight game and gave the Orioles a 4-3 record for the seven-game homestand. They left last night for Texas, where they will open a nine-game, American League West road trip tonight against the heavy-hitting Texas Rangers.

The 12-hit performance pulled the Orioles out of a two-day hitting slump in which the offense managed four singles but came away with one victory.

"After the way we were shut down by their two left-handers [Chuck Finley and Mark Langston], it was important to get moving going into a series against a team like Texas," manager Johnny Oates said.

It is important for the Orioles to keep moving if they are to remain in the AL East race. Yesterday's victory pulled them within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.

Oates has not spoken much about the standings this year, choosing to focus on the importance of winning each series, but he admitted that this road trip may be critical to his team's chances of getting back to the top of the standings.

"It's important for us to stay close right now, since we have our last 10 games at home," he said. "You can get greedy and say that for us to get back in it we have to sweep a couple of series, but the goal right now is to stay in the hunt.

"You can look at it and say, 'We have to win 28 of our last 34 games to have a shot, but who knows? The way I'm looking at it is, if we win 90 games and finish first, that's great, and if we win 90 games and we played as hard as we could and finished second, then we have to accept that."

Oates has gone through a personal struggle the past few weeks to deal with the ups and downs of a sometimes difficult season, but he seems to have come to grips with himself over the past few days. He said yesterday that he finally learned that he couldn't make things happen all by himself, but a couple of managerial moves may have made it all possible for the Orioles yesterday.

It was Oates who decided to send Voigt to bat in place of switch-hitting second baseman Harold Reynolds in the eighth inning with the score tied and one out. Voigt lined the first pitch over the drawn-up infield to break the tie.

It also was Oates who gave McLemore the night off Wednesday, hoping that a little mental relaxation would help him end a 2-for-22 slump.

McLemore responded by collecting as many as four hits in a game for the fourth time this season. He now has three four-hit games andone five-hit game this year.

He drove in a run with a single in the second, doubled and scored in the seventh and brought home two big runs in the eighth. He raised his batting average to .301 and pushed his career-high RBI total to 62.

"I was talking to Davey [Lopes, first-base coach] at first and he said, 'You see what a day off can do for you,' " McLemore said. "He had suggested the other day that maybe I was tired, but I didn't want to believe that."

The entire club looked tired in the early innings. Angels right-hander Phil Leftwich (1-3) held the Orioles to two runs on six hits through the first six innings before leaving during the game-tying rally in the seventh. He gave up the seventh-inning double to McLemore before giving way to reliever Ken Patterson, whose second pitch to Baines disappeared over the left-field fence.

"It really didn't look good for us the first six or seven innings," Oates said, "but Harold's home run really picked us up."

Orioles right-hander Ben McDonald worked seven innings and gave up four runs on nine hits, but he left the game after Baines' home run took him off the hook.

Right-hander Mark Williamson worked a hitless eighth inning and benefited from the five-run rally to record his seventh victory. Left-hander Jim Poole finished with a perfect ninth, but it was not a save situation.

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