Perez single-handedly cools off O's, 3-1

June 14, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Having belted 39 hits in three games off a series of Boston Dead Sox pitchers over the weekend, the Orioles didn't have many left to spend on veteran New York Yankees right-hander Melido Perez last night at Camden Yards.

Perez shut out the Orioles for eight innings, allowing but six singles, and watched the Yankees' bullpen survive a ninth-inning mini-rally to claim a 3-1 victory. The opener of the four-game, first-place showdown series pushed the Orioles two games out of first before a subdued crowd of 47,383 at Camden Yards.

Not that it was any consolation to them, but the Orioles didn't beat themselves. Perez took care of that for them. Bothered by a right hip pointer, Perez took himself out of the game after eight innings. He also has been suffering from a stiff back and sore right big toe.

"That's as well as anybody's pitched against us all year," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

How did Perez do it?

"He got me out with breaking balls," designated hitter Harold Baines said.

Said third baseman Leo Gomez, struck out twice by Perez: "He threw me pretty good fastballs inside and outside."

And he struck out Rafael Palmeiro with a full-count changeup, after Palmeiro had singled twice.

Evidently, Perez had it all working for him in his second win since April 21.

What was his best pitch?

"I always say the best pitch in baseball is a strike, and he threw strikes," Gomez said.

Lots of them.

"I just pitched today with my heart," Perez said. "I knew I had to have a good game. We've been losing and I needed this game so bad. To win one game in two months. I'd like to do something for this team."

Perez (4-3) struck out five and walked one.

The Yankees retained their sole hold on first in the American League East, a division they have led by themselves since May 9.

The Orioles sought to change that by claiming a share of first place last night. Instead, they finished the night that their four-game winning streak died trailing the Yankees by two games.

The Yanks have won three of the four meetings between the AL East contenders.

The Yankees scored a run in the fifth and two in the seventh in support of Perez, who outpitched Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez (3-4, 4.32), who didn't make it out of the seventh inning. Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Danny Tartabull delivered run-scoring singles for the Yankees, who took a 2-9 June record into the night.

Ample support for Perez, who retired 13 in a row until Mark McLemore led off the eighth with a single to center, only to be erased by a Mike Devereaux double-play grounder.

Veteran left-hander Steve Howe took the mound in the ninth for the Yankees and lost the shutout when Cal Ripken doubled to left with one out and Gomez blooped a two-out double that fell in front of right fielder Paul O'Neill.

Earning his fourth save, Bob Wickman struck out Chris Hoiles for the final out, a gutsy managerial decision by Buck Showalter considering Hoiles had gone 3-for-6 with two home runs in his career against Wickman.

Mattingly's two-out single to left scored Mike Gallego from second to break a scoreless tie in the fifth. Gallego had reached on a leadoff walk and took second on Bernie Williams' single.

After Mattingly's run-scoring single, Fernandez confronted a nightmarish situation for any pitcher. He fell behind Tartabull 3-and-0 with two runners on.

Fernandez battled back, getting Tartabull to pop to first in foul territory, keeping the Orioles' deficit at one run.

The Yankees got to Fernandez again in the seventh, when Gallego doubled to lead off the inning, was sacrificed to third and scored on Williams' bloop single in front of a charging Devereaux.

Randy Velarde then hit a hard two-hopper that glanced off the glove of Ripken and went into left for a single. After Mattingly bounced into a force to put runners on the corners with two outs, Alan Mills came on to face Tartabull.

Fernandez left to warm applause, then watched Tartabull drive in a run with a single to right-center, putting the Orioles three runs behind.

Fernandez, who has one win in his past seven starts, was charged with three earned runs on eight hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five, including three of the first four batters he faced.

Perez had won one of his previous eight starts, defeating only the Orioles May 21 at Yankee Stadium, 5-4.

The Orioles made the least of early opportunities against Perez.

They ran themselves into trouble in the first when Chris Sabo and Palmeiro hit back-to-back, one-out singles. Palmeiro extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the hit to right, but he didn't have cause to celebrate. He was thrown out trying to take second on the throw to third.

Ripken then grounded sharply to short to leave Sabo at third.

The Orioles staged a two-out rally in the second but again fell short, when Devereaux struck out looking to leave McLemore on first and Hoiles on third. It was the 55th strikeout in 55 games for Devereaux.

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