Sabo again: His 3 RBIs send O's past Jays, 5-1

June 25, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Chris Sabo homered, doubled, drove in three runs, broke a ninth-inning tie and played two positions last night, leading the Orioles to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at SkyDome.

Again, Sabo made the Orioles front office look wise for not granting his wish to be sent to the minor leagues, where he could play third base every day to entice other clubs into trading for him.

Sabo has proved his value at the major-league level, but the Orioles aren't about to trade him now.

Sabo's bases-loaded, two-run double off fading left-handed reliever Dave Righetti broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning.

"I hit a ground ball, and I was just happy to hit it in the right place," Sabo said of the ball that skipped past third baseman Ed Sprague. "Two feet over, and it's a double play.

Righetti did his job, and I just got lucky."

One of Sabo's skills -- power, to be exact -- came into play in the first.

His first-inning home run off Pat Hentgen landed just inside the left-field foul pole and in the second deck of seats. It gave Orioles starter Mike Oquist a 1-0 lead that stood until the sixth.

"It was a mistake, and he doesn't make too many of those," Sabo said. "He has great stuff. That was as good a stuff as I've seen all year, I thought."

Sabo started in left field and moved to third base in place of Leo Gomez (1-for-20 in the past five games) in the eighth inning, when Jack Voigt came in to play left. It was Sabo's first appearance at third base since May 6.

Orioles manager Johnny Oates said Sabo will start today at third while Gomez rests for the first time since winning the job when Sabo went on the disabled list with a strained back.

Sabo saw to it that clutch performances from Oquist and winning pitcher Mark Eichhorn (3-1) did not go to waste.

Oquist, usually at his best in relief of a starting pitcher, provided the Orioles' beleaguered bullpen with some relief as a starter last night.

Standing in for injured left-hander Sid Fernandez, Oquist limited the Blue Jays to one run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

He got out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first by retiring Joe Carter and John Olerud on called third strikes that the hitters argued with home plate umpire Greg Kosc.

In the sixth, the Blue Jays put runners on second and third with nobody out, and Oquist limited them to one run.

Oquist hasn't earned a win in five starts, but he did everything but that for the Orioles last night. Eichhorn shut out the Blue Jays over the final 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit.

Eichhorn took over for Oquist with two runners on base and two out in the seventh with Paul Molitor coming to the plate. Molitor fouled back a 3-0 pitch, then grounded to shortstop Cal Ripken for a force at second.

How will Oquist thank Eichhorn? By mooching a meal off him.

"I told him if he pitched into the seventh, I would pick up his meal and beverages for the night," Eichhorn said. "That can be pretty expensive in this town."

It won't be ridiculously so, Oquist promised.

"I won't hurt him that bad," Oquist said. "He was a good guy to me tonight."

Eichhorn arrived at just the right time for Oquist.

"I thought he'd had enough," Oates said of Oquist. "The kid had given me an outstanding job."

Hentgen did the same for the Blue Jays.

He limited the Orioles to one run in eight innings. He allowed six hits and three walks and struck out nine.

Other than the pitch to Sabo, a hanging breaking ball, Hentgen had no reason to want to take anything back.

Hentgen, who threw 133 pitches, gave way to Righetti at the start of the ninth.

Righetti (0-1) allowed four earned runs, two scoring on Rafael Palmeiro's single, on three hits and two walks in one-third of an inning.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston, his bullpen tired and banged up, let Righetti face six hitters before taking the ball from him and giving it Mike Timlin.

Despite a lack of offensive support, Oquist held the lead and took a shutout into the sixth, stretching his streak of scoreless innings vs. the Blue Jays to 10.

Oquist threw five innings of no-hit ball against Toronto to earn his first win, May 10 at Camden Yards.

It was during the innings that he got into the most trouble that Oquist pitched most impressively.

The Blue Jays put runners on second and third with nobody out in the sixth, and Oquist didn't let them take the lead. Carter's sacrifice fly to left scored Roberto Alomar with the run that tied the score.

Alomar had led off with a single to left. Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds then made an unsuccessful skidding attempt at Molitor's sinking line drive that went for a double. Alomar held at third and scored on Carter's 67th RBI.

The Blue Jays, who are last in the American League with 339 runs, did not score again. As a result, the Orioles won the opener of a series at SkyDome for the first time since 1990.

The Orioles are 13-20 at the stadium and have won only one series there.

"That's history," Oates said.

So might be the Blue Jays (31-39), who are last in the AL East

with little promise of turning it around. Not only that, they are 0-4 against the Orioles.

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: SkyDome, Toronto

Time: 1:35 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Jamie Moyer (2-5, 5.84) vs. Blue Jays' Juan Guzman (6-7, 6.28)

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