Fernandez joins starters' roll, 4-2

April 29, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- California Angels manager Buck Rodgers has seen 23 starting pitchers face his team this season and he said he never saw a better one than the one he watched last night.

Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez took a two-hitter into the ninth inning and fell two outs shy of a complete game, earning a 4-2 victory over the California Angels.

Lee Smith got the last two outs for his 11th save in 11 tries. Smith became the fastest in major-league history to reach 11 saves, just as he was the quickest to reach seven, eight, nine and 10.

"That's as good a game as has been pitched against us this year," Rodgers said of Fernandez's effort. "He had a good, live fastball, not overpowering but live, and he's got that slop curve."

Fernandez allowed three hits, struck out five and walked two as the Orioles pushed their winning streak to a season-best four games. Many in the crowd of 16,415 at Anaheim Stadium gave Fernandez a standing ovation as he walked off the mound one out into the ninth.

Fernandez almost became the third consecutive Orioles starter to pitch a complete game, following Arthur Rhodes and Ben McDonald in pitching into the ninth.

Fernandez (1-0) had retired 11 in a row and 16 out of 17 before allowing a one-out home run to Chad Curtis in the ninth, the second home run allowed by Fernandez. Curtis had two of California's three hits.

Rodgers was not the only manager present who was impressed with Fernandez.

"He threw great," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "He got ahead of hitters all night. His off-speed stuff was great. It was exciting to watch him pitch that way. He was in complete control the whole ballgame."

Orioles starters haven't been in such complete control in almost a decade, coming within two outs of three consecutive complete games, which they last did July 27-29, 1985, with Storm Davis, Scott McGregor and Mike Boddicker.

The Orioles, in second place in the American League East, one-half game behind Boston, won for the ninth time in 12 games. They completed a two-game sweep of the Angels, who fell only a game out of first place in the American League West despite having a 9-14 record.

The Orioles head to Seattle to open a three-game series with the Mariners tonight, then wind up the seven-game West Coast trip with a pair of games in Oakland.

Thanks to Fernandez, they arrived in Seattle with a rested bullpen.

Chili Davis' home run leading off the second, Curtis' bunt single to the right of the mound leading off the fourth, and Curtis' ninth-inning home run were the only hits the Angels could get off Fernandez.

Fernandez didn't second-guess himself for allowing the home run to Davis on an 0-and-2 pitch.

"I learned early in my career there's no sense in wasting a pitch," Fernandez said. "Pitching in the big leagues is hard enough to do without wasting pitches."

Fernandez, limited to 2 2/3 innings in spring training because of bursitis in his left shoulder, became the sixth consecutive Orioles starter to pitch into the eighth inning.

He threw 95 pitches in 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball in his first start, against the Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington. Six days later, he threw 108 pitches in 7 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. Fernandez did not get the decision in either Orioles victory.

Last night 109 pitches almost got him a complete game.

The Orioles erased the 1-0 deficit with a three-run fourth inning off Angels starter John Dopson.

Rafael Palmeiro, who came into the game riding an 11-for-23 streak in which he had four doubles and three home runs, pulled a pitch for a double leading off the fourth.

Dopson then walked Cal Ripken and struck out Mike Devereaux, giving Devereaux his sixth multi-strikeout game in 15 starts. After Leo Gomez walked to load the bases, Dopson balked in the tying run. One-out, run-scoring singles by Mark McLemore and Tim Hulett gave the Orioles a 3-1 advantage.

Jeffrey Hammonds, hitting from the second spot in the order for the sixth game in a row, led off the fifth with a home run to left, his fourth, giving Fernandez a three-run cushion.

Hammonds' fourth home run came in his 69th at-bat. Last season, Hammonds hit three in 105 at-bats.

Dopson lasted six innings for California and allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks.

The Orioles twice had chances of blowing the game open, but came up empty both times as Rodgers' decision to issue intentional passes paid off twice.

Rodgers had Dopson walk Brady Anderson to load the bases for Hammonds in the sixth and Hammonds lined out softly to short and stranded the three runners.

One inning later, Rodgers had right-hander Scott Lewis, the pitcher who had beaned Chris Hoiles the previous night, intentionally walk McLemore to get to Hulett. Lewis retired Hulett on a fly to center.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Seattle Mariners

Site: Kingdome, Seattle

Time: 10:35

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jamie Moyer (1-1, 5.59) vs. Mariners' Greg Hibbard (1-1, 3.96)

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