O's power surge turns on Brewers' 12th loss in row

May 24, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Two long streaks ended and one endured last night at County Stadium, home of thousands of empty seats and one awful major-league baseball team.

For a change, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro didn't get a hit and most of his teammates did in a 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, witnessed by 10,849 fans, including a large woman dressed in a fluffy neck-to-toe bird costume.

Palmeiro went 0-for-4 with a walk, extinguishing his club-record 24-game hitting streak on the same night the Brewers extended their losing streak to 12 games.

"It's no big deal," Palmeiro said. "Streaks come and go. We won the game and that's more important."

The Orioles didn't mind seeing another streak end.

They had gone five games and 52 innings without a home run until a couple of unlikely streak-busters terminated that drought. Jack Voigt and Mark McLemore homered in the three-run fifth inning against Milwaukee starter Ricky Bones (3-4, 2.34), who allowed five runs in 7 1/3 innings.

With help from five relievers, the Orioles' Ben McDonald (8-2, 3.65), flashing a season-best curveball and a rejuvenated fastball, made the inning stand up.

McDonald allowed three runs (two earned) and eight hits, walked two and struck out three in 6 2/3 innings. He moved into a three-way tie for the major-league lead in wins with Kansas City's David Cone and St. Louis' Bob Tewksbury.

The win moved the Orioles to within four games of the first-place New York Yankees.

"We haven't even begun to play well and we're right in there," McDonald said. "The Yankees have played as good as they can. Boston has played as good as it can and the Orioles have yet to play as good as we can play."

McDonald had gone 1-2 with a 7.88 ERA in his previous three starts and had complained of a "dead arm."

"That's gone," McDonald said. "I was able to come inside good a few times when I needed to and that tells me I had my good velocity."

After Turner Ward's sacrifice fly trimmed the Orioles' lead to two runs with two outs in the seventh, Oates sent for left-hander Tom Bolton to face Dave Nilsson.

Bolton, the first of five Orioles relievers, struck out Nilsson. Oates also used Mark Eichhorn, Jim Poole, Alan Mills and Lee Smith, who earned his 18th save in 19 chances.

zTC "I can't keep doing that all the time," Oates said. "They can't

pitch every day. Maybe one of these days we'll score 10 runs and the game won't be on the line every pitch."

Milwaukee manager Phil Garner made a similar pitching change in the ninth with Palmeiro at the plate trying to extend his streak. Garner called for left-hander Graeme Lloyd to replace Doug Henry.

McLemore walked in front of Palmeiro with two outs, giving the Orioles' No. 3 hitter one more crack at extending the streak, but Lloyd stabbed his low line drive.

"I was hoping Mark would get on so I could have another chance," Palmeiro said. "But even if he didn't get on, it wouldn't have been any big deal."

Third baseman Leo Gomez, coming off a 4-for-5, two-double day in New York, didn't exhaust all the big hits from his bat.

In the fourth inning, Gomez drove a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Palmeiro, who had walked, and Cal Ripken, who had singled.

Gomez's double not only gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead, but also gave them more reason to give thanks he drew no interest on the trade market.

The Orioles tried to trade Gomez all spring. They would have taken a Johnny Oates bubble gum card in return, but nobody offered that much. Peter Angelos wouldn't let the front office release him.

Then Chris Sabo went on the disabled list with a bad back, and suddenly Gomez didn't look like excess baggage. Didn't play like it, either.

"I'm happy right now," Gomez said. "They gave me a chance to play and I'm proving I can do my job."

As a starter in 17 games, Gomez is hitting .339 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

Gomez brought the Orioles back from a 1-0 deficit.

In the third, Jose Valentin reached second with one out on an error charged to center fielder Mike Devereaux and went on to score.

Left fielder Brady Anderson and Devereaux converged on Valentin's fly ball to shallow left-center and barely avoided a collision as the ball dropped to the turf.

Gomez wasn't the only Sunday hero who began the year on the bench who came through for the Orioles for the second game in a row.

Voigt, filling in for injured right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, led off the fifth inning with his second home run to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead and start a three-run rally.

Anderson followed with a double to left and McLemore hit his first home run to make it 5-1.

In the seventh, the Brewers strung one-out singles from Matt Mieske, Valentin and Jeff Cirillo (who entered in the first inning when Billy Spiers sprained his ankle) into a run and Ward's sacrifice fly cut the Orioles' lead to 5-3.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Milwaukee Brewers

Site: County Stadium, Milwaukee

Time: 8:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Sid Fernandez (2-2, 3.40) vs. Brewers' Ted Higuera (1-3, 4.81)

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