O's haul in another Sunday salvage win

June 06, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Even for all the beatings the Orioles have taken lately, no one has been able to deliver the knockout punch that brings about the sweep that triggers the panic button.

Yesterday was yet another survival Sunday for the Orioles, who won a game to avoid a sweep for the third consecutive Sunday, a day of the week that has served as a smelling salt for the team.

Rallying from a four-run, fifth-inning deficit, the Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox, 8-5, in front of 47,257 at Camden Yards, where the crowd finally had reason to get loud.

Rafael Palmeiro, a $30 million man walking around with a hole in his shoe, led the way as the Orioles scored three runs in the fifth and four in the seventh to overcome a 5-1 deficit.

Palmeiro went 3-for-4, homered, doubled, scored two runs and drove in a pair. He and Harold Baines hit back-to-back home runs in the Orioles' three-run fifth, Cal Ripken singled in the go-ahead run in the four-run seventh inning, and Leo Gomez homered again.

Extending his scoreless innings streak to 16, reliever Mark Eichhorn (2-1) tossed two shutout innings for the victory. Lee Smith pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 21st save.

Palmeiro missed a game Saturday for the first time all season, succumbing to an ingrown toenail, and didn't think he would be able to play when he arrived at the park yesterday. He credited trainer/cobbler Jamie Reed with an assist.

Reed cut a hole in the front of Palmeiro's left shoe. "That really relieved the pressure," Palmeiro said.

Not unlike yesterday's win.

"Down 5-1 and coming back, that's going to lift our team," Palmeiro said. "Coming back on that team is great. They have some quality guys out there."

The Orioles have needed to win the final game in four of their

past five series to avoid a sweep and they have gone 4-for-4, defeating the New York Yankees, Detroit and Chicago (twice) in sweep-busting wins.

The win pushed the third-place Orioles to within 4 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees and two games behind second-place Boston.

The Orioles had gone 7-14 heading into yesterday's game.

"It was a good win," Palmeiro said. "We've been struggling, but it hasn't been so bad because the other teams have been losing, so we haven't been losing ground."

They totaled 14 hits, nine off of starter Alex Fernandez, including three home runs. Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook (3-1) took the loss.

Ripken, who had driven in none of the previous 12 runners who were on base during the series, delivered the game-winning hit, a ground single through the left side that scored Palmeiro from second in the seventh, breaking a 5-5 tie.

Orioles starter Mike Oquist left in the fifth after being struck on the head, just above the forehead, with a line drive off the bat of Franco. It went for a run-scoring single that gave the White Sox a 3-1 lead.

Oquist walked off the mound without needing assistance. He underwent precautionary tests at a hospital and was back in the clubhouse after the game.

Left-hander Tom Bolton entered the game with one out and runners on the corners. Bolton walked Robin Ventura to load the bases, then surrendered a two-run line single by Lance Johnson, expanding the White Sox lead to 5-1.

As a result, Oquist was charged with allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.

In two major-league starts, Oquist has a loss, a no-decision and a 12.00 ERA. He has allowed 16 hits and six walks in nine innings.

In three relief appearances, Oquist is 1-0 with an 0.69 ERA.

The Orioles do not need to use their fifth starter again until a week from tomorrow, so they have plenty of time to decide whether Oquist or someone else will get the start.

"Not good," Oquist said of his performance. "The fourth was about the only inning I felt like I threw the ball well. I don't know if I just haven't found that groove yet or what."

Leading off the second, Gomez gave Oquist a 1-0 lead by hitting his sixth home run. "If it weren't for Leo, I'd probably have about 12 saves right now," Smith said.

The White Sox quickly took the lead in the third. Ozzie Guillen, not known for his patience at the plate, walked on four pitches to lead off the inning, went to third on Tim Raines' single to right and scored on Joey Cora's single to right.

After Frank Thomas grounded into a double play, producing with one swing twice as many outs as he had the previous night, Franco singled to left to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead that grew to 5-1 in the fifth.

Palmeiro's two-run home run to right and Baines' home run to right-center brought the Orioles within 5-4 in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, the Orioles batted around and scored four runs.

Baines (2-for-5, two RBIs), Ripken, Mark McLemore and Jack Voigt singled in runs in the inning.

"It was a big win," said Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux, who contributed a pair of singles. "But name a win that isn't big."

Some, such as yesterday's, are bigger than others.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina (7-3, 2.81) vs. Royals' Tom Gordon (5-3, 4.60)

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