Mariners break up Rhodes' no-hit bid, O's win streak, 3-2

September 08, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

Arthur Rhodes did everything last night but win.

He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. He braved a 77-minute rain delay to pitch one of the best games of his major-league career. He looked like the pitcher the Orioles have been waiting for these past two seasons. But the Seattle Mariners finally caught up to him and scored a 3-2 victory at Camden Yards.

Third baseman Mike Blowers broke up the no-hit bid and a scoreless tie with a two-out, two-run home run in the seventh inning, and Dave Valle added a bases-empty shot in the eighth to end the Orioles' eight-game winning streak.

Rhodes (4-4) gave up just those two hits over eight innings, but they were enough to keep the Orioles from gaining more ground in the tight American League East.

The Toronto Blue Jays blew a five-run lead and lost in extra innings to the Oakland Athletics, and the New York Yankees came from ahead to lose to the Texas Rangers, missing a chance to move into first place. So the evening was a wash for the top three contenders, which had to look pretty good to the Orioles under the circumstances.

Mariners right-hander Brad Holman picked up for injured starter Chris Bosio in the fifth inning and held the scoreless tie until the two late-inning home runs carried him to his first major-league victory. Lest anyone not recognize the name, Holman was the pitcher who was hit in the face by a screaming line drive on Aug. 8 in one of the most frightening plays of the season.

He threw four shutout innings last night and gave up just two hits in his most impressive major-league performance to date, but left in the ninth after walking Harold Reynolds to lead off the inning.

The Orioles staged a last-gasp rally, taking advantage of another no-out walk to score two runs on back-to-back RBI doubles by Mike Devereaux and Harold Baines, but veteran reliever Ted Power finally struck out Cal Ripken to end the game and record his 10th save.

Just another exciting, scoreboard-watching night in the wild, wild AL East.

"I think the next three weeks should be exciting, no matter what happens," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "It's going to make September seem a little shorter."

Rhodes could help make the time fly if he continues to pitch the way he did last night. He didn't win, but he served notice that he may be ready to join Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald and reassemble the youthful nucleus of the starting rotation. It couldn't happen at a better time for the resurgent Orioles.

"He threw a lot of strikes tonight," Oates said. "That's what he has to do. There were only a handful of balls hit well off him. Unfortunately, a couple of them got out of the ballpark. But I'll take three runs. We give up three runs a night and we'll be all right."

Rhodes continues to mirror the early struggles and accomplishments of McDonald, who showed flashes of brilliance 1990 and '91 but couldn't stay healthy enough to get the full benefit of his first two years of major-league experience.

McDonald has emerged as the solid pitcher everyone expected him to be -- going nearly two full seasons without missing a start. Rhodes can only hope that he'll enjoy similar good fortune in 1994 and '95, but he is trying hard to salvage the final two months of this season. Since returning from knee surgery, he has made seven starts and has pitched well in five of them, though his overall performance remains inconsistent.

"When you look at Arthur, in every game that he's had problems, it was because he was not throwing strikes," Oates said. "He would throw well for a while, but come the fifth or sixth inning, he would walk the No. 9 hitter or the leadoff guy. You're going to be in trouble if you do that in a one-run ballgame."

Last night's game looked like a breakthrough, even if the rain seemed to come at just the wrong time. Rhodes carried a no-hit bid through four innings before the clouds opened up and forced him to sit around for nearly an hour and a half, but he came back and held the Mariners hitless for another 2 2/3 innings before Blowers broke the scoreless tie with a bang.

"I wasn't thinking about a no-hitter," Rhodes said. "I was thinking about throwing the ball over the plate and getting guys out."

Rhodes did fall victim to a leadoff walk. He put No. 2 hitter Brian Turang on to lead off the seventh before striking out Ken Griffey and Jay Buhner to bring Blowers to the plate. Blowers pulled a 1-1 pitch to left that sliced through the damp air and landed three rows into the bleachers for his 13th homer of the year.

"He hit a fastball in," Rhodes said. "I got it up a little bit. If I had gotten it up a little more, I'd have been out of the inning."

It was a deflating moment for Rhodes and the Orioles, but the young left-hander got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 45,704 when he left the field at the end of the inning.

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