Tackett cleans McDonald's mess

June 28, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- A big part of any catcher's job includes being there for his pitcher when he needs him.

Jeff Tackett was there for Ben McDonald last night, though not in the traditional sense.

Tackett, the Orioles' backup catcher, did his starting pitcher a favor long after McDonald was blasted right out of the game by the Cleveland Indians.

Tackett, giving Chris Hoiles a rare day off, homered in the eighth inning to break a tie and give the Orioles, the last team to visit Jacobs Field, a 7-6 victory over the Indians.

But the night was not without a loss for the Orioles.

Brady Anderson, playing spectacular center field since Mike Devereaux went on the disabled list June 16, left the game in the seventh inning with a strained right hamstring.

The victory, the Orioles' fourth straight on this road trip, kept them 3 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees, who defeated the Boston Red Sox, 5-1, for Jimmy Key's 12th win.

Tackett's first home run since 1992 came off Cleveland starting and losing pitcher Charles Nagy (6-4). It broke a 6-6 tie and turned left-handed reliever Tom Bolton (1-1) into the winning pitcher.

It also eased the burden for McDonald, who was given a five-run lead by the Orioles' offense and the Indians' defense, only to turn a one-run lead over to Bolton in the four-run fifth inning.

McDonald allowed eight hits, two walks and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. One start does not a slump make. In the past two starts, McDonald has given up 15 hits and 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

L If two starts does not a slump make, then 10 certainly does.

McDonald has a 7.12 ERA in his past 10 starts and is averaging 5 1/3 innings per start over that time.

Bolton earned the win, Lee Smith picked up his 26th save in 29 chances -- striking out the side in the ninth -- and Alan Mills contributed one of the biggest outs of the night, striking out Eddie Murray with men on first and second for the final out of the eighth inning.

Murray, who had run-scoring singles in his second and third trips to the plate, looked at strike three in his fifth. It was the 10,000th at-bat of his career and came on the same night he moved into a tie for 15th on the all-time RBIs list (1,715) with Cap Anson.

Mills made his 10th consecutive scoreless appearance, covering innings.

McDonald, formerly a candidate for the American League All-Star team, had pitched three innings of no-hit ball before his night began to unravel.

He took a 6-1 lead into the fifth inning and took a bloated earned run average out of it, bloated all the way to 4.92.

He faced eight batters and allowed six hits in the inning.

Murray, the final batter McDonald faced, did the same thing he did in his first at-bat. He produced in the clutch and drove in a run with a single. Gee, there's a surprise. Murray has driven in 53 runs this year.

One of the best clutch hitters of his time, Murray is batting .366 with runners in scoring position for the Indians, his third team since he left the Orioles after the 1988 season.

The Indians didn't need Murray's help to tie the game with a run in the sixth. Kenny Lofton reached on a two-out walk and scored easily on Omar Vizquel's double to left-center.

The Orioles were anything but macho in building the five-run lead.

They scored four runs in the fifth despite hitting only one ball out of the infield against Nagy, that being Rafael Palmeiro's run-scoring single to right.

The Orioles started the inning with four consecutive singles, the first two bunts by Anderson and Chris Sabo and the fourth a Cal Ripken grounder that first baseman Paul Sorrento cut in front of second baseman Carlos Baerga for, leaving no one to cover first.

Nagy and Baerga committed throwing errors in the second Keystone Cops inning in as many nights of which the Orioles were the benefactors.

The big little inning gave the Orioles a 6-1 lead. Nagy was done in by wildness in the second inning, when Harold Baines led off with a single, and advanced on Nagy's two-out walks to Mark McLemore and Jeff Tackett.

Anderson, 3-for-5 with two home runs the previous night, drove in the first run of the night by hitting a grounder down the first base line that Sorrento knocked down but could make no play on.

Baines drilled his 12th home run, to right field on a 2-1 count, to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

The Indians came back with a run in the fourth, only one run thanks to Anderson.

After Murray singled up the middle to drive in Vizquel, Baerga stole third with one out. Anderson caught Sorrento's fly ball to center and whipped a perfect throw to Tackett at the plate for the inning-ending double play.

@

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Site: Jacobs Field, Cleveland

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Arthur Rhodes (1-5, 9.00) vs. Indians' Jason Grimsley (1-0, 2.93)

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