Belle HR rings up 9-8 Indians win after O's 5-run 9th

June 29, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- One pitch thrown by Alan Mills and hit a long, long way by Albert Belle undid what the Orioles accomplished in a five-run ninth inning last night at Jacobs Field.

Belle drove the second pitch thrown by Mills over the fence in right-center to give the Cleveland Indians a 9-8 victory and render meaningless the Orioles' five-run, ninth-inning comeback that tied the score.

Belle's 21st home run, with one out and nobody on, traveled 412 feet and dropped Mills' record to 2-3. It broke a streak of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances for the right-hander and was the sixth home run allowed in 30 2/3 innings by Mills, who replaced left-hander Jim Poole to face Belle.

It also prevented the Orioles from stretching their winning streak to a season-long five games.

"I don't know how he hit it to tell you the truth," Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles said of the 0-and-1 fastball. "As high as it was, that was a pitch he probably should have taken. You definitely don't think that pitch is going to be hit for a home run."

Belle hits a lot of pitches that shouldn't be home runs.

"The pitch was supposed to be away from him," Hoiles said. "It was away, but it was more up than [Mills] wanted it to be. He's tough to pitch to. He can hit the ball down, up, inside, and away. He can pretty much hurt you any way you pitch him."

The Orioles had sent 10 batters to the plate in the ninth to come back from an 8-3 deficit. Jeffrey Hammonds' fifth home run, with one on -- his first since April 28 -- got them started.

The inning also featured a two-run single by Cal Ripken and a game-tying single from Harold Baines. Ripken was thrown out by center fielder Kenny Lofton trying to advance from first to third on Baines' single for the first out of the inning.

"In hindsight, it turned out to be a bad base-running mistake," said Ripken, who represented the go-ahead run. "The old baseball saying is that you should never make the first out or the third out of the inning at third base. I was just trying to be aggressive and Lofton made a great play. On the road, sometimes you have to push it a little and play for the win and not take the tie."

That the Orioles tied it at all was remarkable.

"I just didn't want to make an out and the next nine hitters went up there with the same attitude," Hammonds said. "Tonight was a great ballgame. Down five runs and we came back and tied it up. Everybody got their money's worth tonight. That just shows we're never out of it. That just gives us confidence and lets us know we're never out of it."

At least not when Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove is making the pitching decisions from the other dugout. Hargrove let starter Jason Grimsley allow 14 hits before he removed him in favor of left-hander Derek Lilliquist with nobody out, two runners on and two runs in in the ninth.

Hargrove stayed with Grimsley through 130 pitches one night after letting Charles Nagy throw 145.

Instead of letting his shaky bullpen start the inning with empty bases, Hargrove waited until Grimsley didn't retire a batter four batters into the inning. Runners were on second and third with the Orioles trailing 8-5 when Hargrove replaced Grimsley with Lilliquist, who walked Palmeiro and gave way to Eric Plunk, who picked up a cheap win.

Ripken's bases-loaded single drove in two runs and Baines' single to center tied the game.

The Indians had taken an 8-3 lead in the eighth when Poole allowed Alvaro Espinoza's first home run and the first home run for the Indians since they hit back-to-back home runs off left-hander Arthur Rhodes in the fourth inning.

Four batters proved the undoing of Rhodes, who after six minor-league starts returned to the Orioles in place of injured Sid Fernandez.

Rhodes, making his first start for the Orioles since May 21, took a 2-1 lead into the fourth inning.

Belle and Eddie Murray singled. Manny Ramirez and Candy Maldonado hit back-to-back home runs, Ramirez hitting his 13th and Maldonado his fifth.

As long as we're counting home runs here, they were Nos. 7 and 8 allowed by Rhodes, who has pitched 31 2/3 innings in seven major-league starts in 1994.

Rhodes pitched 4 2/3 innings last night, long enough to allow seven hits, three walks (one intentional) and five earned runs. Long enough to kill some hopes.

Oates didn't stay as long with Rhodes as Hargrove did with Grimsley.

Rhodes remained in the game until Ramirez and Maldonado were due up in the fifth. Rhodes struck out Eddie Murray for the second out of the fifth, but Oates didn't trust Rhodes to face the men who took him deep.

Surprisingly, Oates stood on the mound and told Rhodes he liked what he saw of him.

"I've seen Arthur throw better, but that was the best I've seen him pitch," Oates said. "He changed speeds, threw back-to-back changeups and 3-2 breaking balls. You can't just stand out there and throw at the big-league level. You have to pitch and Arthur pitched tonight."

And the Indians hit him. Hard.

But not hard enough to knock Rhodes back into the minor leagues, according to Oates.

"As far as I know, he'll be out there Sunday," Oates said. "Unless you know something different, he'll be out there Sunday."

Oates gave Rhodes encouragement on the mound.

"That was nice to hear that from him," Rhodes said. "I liked that. I went out there and threw all my pitches and he told me he liked that."

Unfortunately, the Indians appreciated it too.


Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Site: Jacobs Field, Cleveland

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Mike Oquist (2-2, 5.18) vs. Indians' Dennis Martinez (6-4, 3.89)

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