O's strike last, edge Clemens, 3-2

May 18, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The as-advertised pitching duel was over and all the winning pitcher could talk about was how impressed he was with the losing pitcher.

The Orioles' Mike Mussina had just beaten Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, with a strong eight-inning outing and his mind was on Roger Clemens, the losing pitcher despite striking out 11 (seven called) and tossing a five-hitter.

"Roger was unbelievable," Mussina said. "Whatever happened to him last year is far behind him now. He was all over the corners. To watch him go out there and pitch the way he pitches is just amazing."

Clemens (4-2, 2.54) produced the 56th double-figures strikeout game of his career, but it wasn't good enough to top Mussina, who scattered eight hits, allowed two runs, walked one and struck out seven in front of 47,420, the 11th consecutive sellout crowd at chilly Camden Yards.

Lee Smith pitched the ninth for his major-league-leading 16th save in 17 chances, preserving Mussina's seventh victory and Cal Ripken's game-winning RBI, an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.

"I was sitting in here watching the game on TV for the first seven innings and I had to catch myself to stop from rooting for Roger," Smith said. "We're good friends from my days in Boston and anybody has to have great respect for him."

The Orioles' victory in the opener of a three-game series stopped a season-long three-game losing streak, moved them within three games of first-place New York and within one game of second-place Boston in the American League East.

Mussina was backed by three Harold Baines hits, including a sixth-inning home run that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Smith has saved six of Mussina's seven victories. Benefiting from a generous strike three call from plate umpire John Hirschbeck, Smith retired Otis Nixon on an outside pitch, stranding a runner at second for the final out.

Mussina (7-1, 2.45), tied for the major-league lead with seven wins, leads the league with 69 2/3 innings pitched and is fourth in ERA.

Pitching a complete game, Clemens allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) and walked three.

"Sitting in the dugout watching those two you start thinking about a double no-hitter with 18 strikeouts on one side," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "It looked like Roger was headed for that tonight."

Ripken, who has a team-leading 26 RBIs despite only two home runs, broke a 2-2 tie with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Rafael Palmeiro in the eighth inning.

Extending his hitting streak to 19 games, longest in the majors this season, Palmeiro started the one-out rally with a single off shortstop Tim Naehring's glove and took third on Baines' slow ground single up the middle, Baines' third hit of the night.

Baines drove a 3-1 fastball from Clemens over the left-field fence leading off the sixth to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Naehring quickly responded, tying the game by clearing the left-field fence with a just-fair line drive off a full-count fastball from Mussina.

The Red Sox threatened in the eighth, putting runners on the corners with two-out singles from Mo Vaughn and Andre Dawson, but Mussina survived the inning with the score tied 2-2 after Scott Cooper flied deep to center.

In his previous six starts, Clemens had allowed one earned run four times and none twice. He had given up just 22 hits in 45 innings and had 45 strikeouts.

"For a while there, it was kind of funny," Mussina said. "It was one of those games where it was like, it's your turn to get three outs. OK, now it's my turn to get three. I wasn't even paying attention to what I was doing there for a while. I was just getting outs. Then when I started paying attention, they started scoring."

The Orioles trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, which had a little drama and a controversial call that went the Orioles' way. The Orioles loaded the bases with nobody out. If Las Vegas gave odds on such things, the Orioles would have been no better than even-money to score a run. Clemens has been that good lately.

Clemens struck out Brady Anderson for the first out. Next up was Mike Devereaux, who had a .174 lifetime average against Clemens coming into the game. Devereaux swung at a !c high-and-outside 2-0 fastball from Clemens, eliciting a groan from the crowd. Devereaux took a similar pitch for ball three, then drove a sacrifice fly deep to left to score Leo Gomez and tie the game, 1-1.

Boston second baseman Scott Fletcher then stopped Palmeiro's screaming one-hopper and threw from his knees to second base for the inning-ending force play.

The Orioles had loaded the bases on walks to Gomez and McLemore, bringing up Jack Voigt. Clemens barehanded Voigt's bunt and threw to third ahead of Gomez. Third base umpire Rich Garcia called Gomez safe, ruling Clemens' throw had pulled Cooper off the bag.

"I made the play, but we didn't get the call," Clemens said.

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