O's take 8-0 lead, but win is anything but a laugher

May 09, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

As easy days go, yesterday was an excruciatingly difficult one for the Orioles.

Leading by eight runs after three innings and seemingly on their way to a rout of the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles hung on for an 8-6 victory and headed into tonight's series opener against Toronto wondering if they would have enough healthy bodies to field a team.

By the game's end, Mike Devereaux, hit in the face by pitch from Chad Ogea, was in the hospital. A CT scan and a jaw X-ray revealed no abnormalities. Devereaux was released from University Hospital after the game and returned to the clubhouse with a swollen left cheek.

The sixth-inning pitch sent Devereaux to his knees as blood gushed out of his mouth.

"I feel good," Devereaux said. "I've felt better, but I feel good. The swelling just has to go down, then everything will be fine."

Devereaux, who homered, tripled and drove in four runs in the first two innings, and winning pitcher Ben McDonald (7-0) were largely responsible for the Orioles taking an 8-0 lead three innings into the game.

The early stroll turned into a tense sprint by the end as the injuries mounted for the Orioles (18-10), who are in third place in the American League East, one game behind Boston.

Harold Baines had the toenail on his right big toe drilled for drainage after fouling a pitch off it in the second inning. He was lifted for a pinch hitter two innings later.

Third baseman Chris Sabo's back locked up on him. He was scratched from the lineup 20 minutes before game time when he had trouble getting back up from tying his shoes.

Jeffrey Hammonds, not yet recovered from the home-plate run-in from eight days previous, had trouble with depth perception during a pre-game workout and was held out of the lineup again.

The pitching staff was not raided by injury, but what started out looking like an easy day there ended up anything but. Orioles manager Johnny Oates had to use six pitchers to win this one and the Indians went down with the potential go-ahead run at the plate.

Lee Smith retired Mark Lewis on a called third strike to earn his 13th save in 14 attempts and leave two runners on the bases.

About the time the Orioles began losing more everyday players, McDonald lost his touch.

McDonald retired the first 12 batters he faced, but 11 of the next 18 reached base by hit or walk before he was lifted for Alan Mills in the seventh inning, when the Indians were in the midst of a nine-batter stretch in which they faced six pitchers.

"There is no such thing as an easy win in baseball," Oates said.

By the time Cleveland put a runner on base against McDonald, Devereuax had driven in four runs and the Orioles had eight runs, nine hits, two home runs, a triple and three walks.

Devereaux's seventh home run, to right-center off Cleveland starter Mark Clark with one out and nobody on in the first, got it started.

"Devereaux likes the ball up and over the plate," Clark said. "You can get him out down and away and I tried to go there, but I left

it out over the plate."

Clark didn't survive a four-run second inning highlighted by Devereaux's bases-loaded triple that right fielder Wayne Kirby made a diving attempt to catch. Devereaux scored on Rafael Palmeiro's single to left.

Leo Gomez, a last-minute addition in place of Sabo at third, hit a three-run home run to left in the third off Ogea to put the Orioles on top 8-0.

McDonald took a perfect game into the fifth, but felt imperfect in the process.

"I didn't have good stuff and I knew that from when I first started warming up," McDonald said. "I tried to find my breaking ball, but it just wasn't there. It's nice to pick up a win when you don't have your best stuff."

McDonald pitched complete games in his previous two starts and appeared on course for a similar result until the fifth, when the Indians singled three times and scored once. Carlos Baerga and Albert Belle hit two-out, back-to-back home runs off McDonald in the sixth. He then loaded the bases on a single and two walks before getting out of the jam with the lead reduced to 8-3.

Three singles, one run, and one out into the seventh, McDonald left with runners on the corners. Mills walked Belle to load the bases and Oates brought in Jim Poole to face Eddie Murray, the game's most dangerous bases-loaded hitter.

The move turned around Murray, a .174 hitter from the right side. Murray flied out to bring home the fifth run charged to McDonald and Oates replaced Poole with right-hander Mark Eichhorn. Pinch hitter Candy Maldonado greeted Eichhorn with a run-scoring single before striking out Jim Thome to end the inning with the Indians trailing 8-6.

Left-hander Tom Bolton threw five pitches in his Orioles debut and got speedy Kenny Lofton, the only batter he faced, to hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth.

All six runs were charged to McDonald, who allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked two.

"I had good location of my fastball, but my curve wasn't there," McDonald said. "I went out there and tricked them for four innings. After that, I couldn't get anything to work and I lost the location on my fastball."

But he didn't lose the game, making it seven wins in seven starts for McDonald, the American League's first seven-game winner.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:35

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

Starters: Blue Jays' Al Leiter (2-1, 4.23) vs. Orioles' Sid Fernandez (1-0, 2.16)

Tickets: Scattered singles remain, not including 183 bleacher and 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.

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