Ex marks spot in 4-2 O's loss

May 07, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

What did you expect them to do, choke?

Not a chance.

Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez did just what the dramatic script called for them to do. They captured an audience that used to be their own, treated them to a slice of yesterday, owned Baltimore for one more night.

Working for the Cleveland Indians now, the old pros answered ovations with clutch performances and sent the Orioles home losers, 4-2, in a 10-inning game played before 47,508 last night at Camden Yards.

Murray clanked his 448th career home run halfway up the foul pole in right field, the foul pole transplanted from Memorial Stadium.

Martinez tossed a 10-inning three-hitter for his first American League victory since 1985. He walked four, struck out nine and reminded the fans why they miss him so.

The crowd made both former Orioles stars feel welcome with standing ovations, Martinez's coming when he took the mound to warm up in the first.

"I almost started to get tears," Martinez said. "It reminded me of when I first came to the big leagues. I think that's what inspired me to pitch the game I did. . . . I've been gone a long time. But the people really appreciated what we did in Baltimore."

Murray's two-run homer, which gave the Indians a 2-1 lead in the fourth, came on the third consecutive changeup by Mike Mussina.

Your thoughts, Eddie?

"No thank you very much, gentlemen and ladies," the smiling Murray told reporters.

Oh well, his bat always has been better than his chat.

The Oriole Park crowd had much to cheer last night from old Orioles and new.

They were treated to a sterling nine-inning effort from Mussina and yet another home run from Rafael Palmeiro.

Everything went right but the end.

Carlos Baerga's bases-loaded double down the third base line off left-handed reliever Jim Poole scored two runs in the 10th and made a loser out of Alan Mills (0-2), who would have gotten out of the inning had Mark McLemore completed a double play.

After Alvaro Espinoza singled, Tony Pena hit a grounder to McLemore. He tagged Espinoza and started to throw to first, but the ball slipped out of his hand. Kenny Lofton followed with a ground single that put runners on the corners.

Poole replaced Mills and walked pinch hitter Manny Ramirez to ** load the bases for Baerga, a switch-hitter who has better numbers batting left-handed.

"I'm never going to fault anyone, but we had a lot of opportunities," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "We did not turn a double play. We did not get a couple of hits. We lost the ballgame."

And Martinez, Murray and Baerga won it.

Murray received a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate in the first, a loud thank you for 12 years of Hall of Fame production in Baltimore. Then, when he homered in the fourth, the cheers returned, though not as loud.

By the time he made it to the plate for his third at-bat, reality had set in. Forget the past, this was a hitter who posed a threat to the Orioles now. Time to boo.

Mussina and Martinez pitched to a standoff until Mussina left after nine innings and 130 pitches.

Mussina did his best to join teammate Ben McDonald in the slim ranks of six-game winners, but had to settle for a no-decision.

Mussina allowed five hits and one walk. He struck out three. The only runs he allowed came on Murray's fourth-inning home run. "He's not going to the Hall of Fame for nothing," Mussina said of Murray.

Mussina also had high praise for Martinez: "He deserved to win. I pitched well enough to win. He pitched better."

Mussina didn't regret not joining Martinez in the 10th.

"I've got 28 more starts," Mussina said. "I'm not going to be a hero for just one."

Backed by sound defense, Mussina received the biggest boost from McLemore in the fifth inning. He ranged far to his right and made a sliding stop of a Lofton grounder up the middle that looked like a run-scoring grounder. McLemore's stop forced Pena to stop at third and Mussina escaped by getting Wayne Kirby to fly to center.

At times it was difficult to distinguish the home team from the visitors.

Back in the American League after spending three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and two with the New York Mets, Murray faced Mussina for the first time.

Mussina, mindful of the history involved, stepped behind the mound and let the crowd do its thing before taking the mound to face Murray, who popped a 2-1 pitch up to first baseman Palmeiro.

Murray returned to the plate in the fourth inning with two out and one on. This time, he got the better of Mussina.

After swinging and missing at two changeups to fall behind in the count 1-2, Murray drove the next pitch, another changeup, much lower this time, halfway up the right-field foul pole for career home run No. 448.

Murray's seventh home run pushed his RBI total to 21 and scored Albert Belle, who had doubled to right-center, sliding in ahead of right fielder Jack Voigt's throw.

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