Orioles strike last last for a 3-2 win over Clemens

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

Those rooting for the Orioles among the sellout crowd of 47,420 who braved the cold at Camden Yards last night got the best of both worlds.

They were treated to Boston Red Sox ace Roger Clemens at his overpowering best and a win for the home team all in one night.

Clemens pitched a five-hitter and struck out 11 for the 56th double-figures strikeout game of his career, but it wasn't good pTC enough to top Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina, who got ninth-inning relief help from Lee Smith.

The Orioles' 3-2 victory over Boston in the opener of a three-game series stopped a season-long three-game losing streak, moved them three games out of first in the American League East and allowed them to creep within one game of second-place Boston.

Mussina led the way, limiting the Red Sox to two runs in eight innings, and was backed by three hits, including a home run, from Harold Baines. Smith earned his major-league-leading 16th save in his 17th opportunity.

Smith caught the outside corner, in the umpire's view at least, for a called strike three with Otis Nixon at the plate, stranding a runner at second to preserve Mussina's victory.

Mussina (7-1, 2.45), tied for the major-league lead with seven wins, leading the league with 69 2/3 innings pitched and fourth in the league in ERA, allowed eight hits, two earned runs and one walk. He struck out seven.

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

Cal Ripken, who has a team-leading 26 RBIs despite having only two home runs, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Rafael Palmeiro from third 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 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.

The bottom of the fifth featured high drama, when 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.

Mark McLemore advanced to third on the play, bringing up Palmeiro with runners on the corners. Boston second baseman Scott Fletcher 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 the sliding Gomez. Third base umpire Rich Garcia called Gomez safe, ruling Clemens' throw had pulled third baseman Scott Cooper off the bag.

Boston manager Butch Hobson argued the call, briefly delaying the drama.

During the first four innings, no base runner from either team advanced as far as second base.

The Orioles' best chance of knocking Clemens out of the game came in the second inning, when he deflected Gomez's hit up the middle with his pitching hand and had to take several warm-up tosses, the first of which hit the backstop.

The Red Sox broke the scoreless tie with one run in the fifth, an inning that would have been bigger if not for Devereaux's spectacular over-the-shoulder running catch at the wall.

Naehring reached on a one-out line single to left and took third on Damon Berryhill's sharp single up the middle that nearly tore Mussina's cap off his head. In between, Devereaux had robbed Billy Hatcher of extra bases.

Nixon hit a grounder up the middle that McLemore ranged behind second base to reach, but was left with no play. Naehring scored the game's first run and Berryhill advanced to second. Fletcher grounded into a force at second for the final out.

The Orioles did not hit a Clemens pitch out of the infield until Baines grounded a single to left field with one out in the fourth inning. Clemens struck out six in the first three innings.

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