Rhodes, Anderson, Hoiles spark 10-4 win O's slow starters recharge batteries at A's expense

April 27, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

The Orioles have equaled their best 19-game start since 1970, but it was a bunch of slow starters who carried them to a 10-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics yesterday at Camden Yards.

Brady Anderson tied a club record with four extra-base hits, Chris Hoiles drove in four runs and left-hander Arthur Rhodes pitched the team's first complete game of the season as the Orioles improved to 12-7 and sent the A's home without a win on their eight-game East Coast trip.

Anderson, who came into the game batting .222, hit two home runs and had two doubles to tie an Oriole Park record for total bases in a game. He came up in the eighth inning with a chance to tie Lou Boudreau's 48-year-old American League record of five extra-base hits in a game, but struck out.

The Orioles had four home runs in all. Rafael Palmeiro hit a bases-empty homer and Hoiles hit a game-breaking, three-run shot to help Rhodes survive a rocky start and record his first victory at Oriole Park.

Rhodes had lost his first three starts this season and looked like he was going to give away a five-run lead in the fourth inning, but settled down to retire the last 16 batters in a three-hit, eight-strikeout performance that had to shore up his sagging confidence.

"It was nice to get some runs early so we could let Arthur pitch a little bit," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "He left his last two outings trailing 2-1 and 3-1. We needed to score early to help him get through his rough inning."

It was an uplifting victory for both Rhodes and the record regular-season crowd of 47,565 that showed up to take advantage of yesterday's businessman's special. The Orioles were playing without four regular members of the starting lineup, but they still managed to flash some of the club's increased offensive potential with a seven-run assault (three unearned) on struggling A's starter Bobby Witt.

That was the kind of performance Oates has been waiting for. He pointed out before the game that the Orioles were ranked fourth from the bottom of the American League in runs scored, then watched happily as Anderson and Co. proved early-season statistics can be misleading.

The Orioles, after all, are averaging 5.5 runs per game, which only looks anemic when placed next to some of the inflated offensive performances of the early season. If they continue to hit like that, they figure to be very competitive in the tough American League East, but Oates isn't satisfied.

"We need to get Brady hot and get Devo [Mike Devereaux] back and get some other people back and contributing," Oates said. "That would help."

Anderson raised his average to .260 with his third career four-hit game, but he doesn't think that there should be pressure on anyone to get the offense moving.

"On this team, you don't have to have everyone hot at the same time," he said. "Devo and I have been struggling, but we have the kind of team this year where other guys are going to pick you up."

Palmeiro in particular. He has made himself very much at home at Camden Yards, with five home runs and a .447 batting average through the first three weeks of play. Hoiles also is gathering momentum after a difficult start. He singled home a run in the first inning before hitting his third homer of the year off reliever Carlos Reyes.

It didn't figure to be a pitching duel. The two starters entered the game with a combined 8.83 ERA. Rhodes had lasted a total of 12 1/3 innings in his three losses (10.95 ERA) and Witt was 1-1 with a 7.66 ERA in four starts.

Witt had an interesting afternoon. The Orioles batted around to score four times in the first inning and added two more runs on flag court shots by Anderson and Palmeiro in the second, but Witt already had five strikeouts when he took the mound in the third.

He also had three walks and a throwing error -- all of which contributed mightily to the A's big early-inning deficit.

Rhodes wasn't particularly sharp at the outset. He responded to his club's four-run rally in the first inning by allowing back-to-back doubles to the first two batters he faced in the second. Ruben Sierra lined a ball off the left-center field fence to lead off the inning and scored when Scott Brosius hit a ball off the hot dog sign in right field.

The A's had a chance to cut the early deficit in half until Brosius inexplicably got himself thrown out trying to steal third with one down and Rhodes behind on the count to Junior Noboa. Instead, the Orioles padded the lead with Anderson's third homer of the year and Palmeiro pushed Witt closer to an early exit with his sixth home run.

If the big lead was supposed to give Rhodes the confidence to throw the ball in the strike zone, it was only a temporary benefit. He looked relatively comfortable on the mound for three innings, but parleyed a couple of two-out walks into three Oakland runs in the fourth.

The bottom of the Oakland batting order won't strike fear into too many pitchers, but Rhodes walked Brosius and Mike Bordick, then gave up a gap triple to Noboa to let the A's back into the game. He complicated the situation with a wild pitch to score the third run of the inning.

"I lost my concentration a little bit," Rhodes said, "but I saw what Mike Mussina did last night. He gave up six runs, but he just kept on pitching and he ended up winning. I was thinking about that. I just wanted to keep going."

The Orioles answered again . . . and again. Anderson lined another ball over the out-of-town scoreboard to lead off the fourth inning and give him the third multi-homer game of his career. He had led off the first inning with a double, so he had 10 total bases before the game was half over. Anderson would strike one more time, leading off the sixth with a double to start the three-run rally that broke the game open.

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