O's find daylight against Indians

July 27, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The Orioles had just blown a six-run lead to end a long road trip on a bummer and Harold Baines was asked about the potential lingering effects of such a loss.

"I won't be thinking about Oakland when we play again," said Baines, who knows only one keel, one more level even than his swing. "We're done playing Oakland. I'll be thinking about Cleveland." Tough losses. Big wins. O-fors and oh-my tape measure home runs. A parking ticket or a winning lottery ticket. Baines reacts to them all with identical stoicism.

He thought about the Cleveland Indians yesterday, as promised, and he left them thinking about him, hitting two home runs and driving in three runs in the Orioles' 10-4 victory in the opener of the first day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards.

Road ruins gave way to home runs for one game. The Orioles hit four home runs among their 15 hits in their first game since going 4-5 on a West Coast trip.

Baines (3-for-4, three runs, three RBIs) led the home-run derby but was anything but alone.

Rafael Palmeiro (3-for-5, two runs, two RBIs) homered for the seventh time in 10 games since the All-Star break, and Leo Gomez (3-for-4, one run, two RBIs) awakened with a long ball of his own.

The Orioles would have hit five home runs if not for Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton scaling the outfield fence, his waist nearly fence-high, and sticking his glove over the fence to deny Cal Ripken of what he had earned.

Lofton, the American League's stolen base leader, stole four bases in one play from Ripken in what was the best catch of the season at Oriole Park, even better than Otis Nixon's.

The Orioles had plenty of power left over to compensate for Cleveland sluggers Eddie Murray and Albert Belle homering off winning pitcher Ben McDonald (12-6), who limited the Indians to four runs on seven hits without walking a batter in eight innings.

Power pitching and power hitting proved a nice tonic for the Orioles, who went back to work yesterday after having a day to sleep on their worst loss of the season, the blown 6-0 lead in Oakland.

"Finishing up the last half of the road trip kind of set us back a little, but we've picked ourselves up off the carpet before and we'll pick ourselves up again," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

The pitching matchup was not as favorable for the Orioles in the night game, which featured struggling No. 5 starter Mike Oquist against veteran Dennis Martinez.

In the opener, the Orioles had the fortune of facing a pitcher just up from Triple-A and an Indians defense that committed as many errors (three) in one game as it had in the previous 16 combined.

The Orioles tagged right-hander Albie Lopez for 10 hits and six runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Lopez served up both of Baines' home run pitches as well as Palmeiro's.

Gomez hit his off Jose Mesa with one on in the four-run seventh, an inning that gave the Orioles a 10-2 lead, which even by recent Orioles standards qualifies as safe.

A two-run double by Lofton off McDonald in the eighth cut the Orioles' lead to six runs, but this lead didn't go the way of the last six-run lead. Jim Poole pitched a scoreless ninth.

McDonald had pitched four scoreless innings at the start of the game.

Murray's 15th home run and No. 456 of his Cooperstown-bound career, to center on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the fifth, ended a string of 10 consecutive outs for McDonald and trimmed Cleveland's lead to 5-1.

Palmeiro had hit his 22nd home run, with one on in the three-run third, to get the Orioles started against Lopez.

Baines led off the fourth by hitting a Lopez changeup over the left-field fence and led off the sixth by stroking a Lopez fastball over the right-field fence. The line drives were Nos. 13 and 14 for Baines.

The next pitch after Baines' second home run sailed over the head of Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, who threw a menacing stare but no fists in Lopez's direction but no fists.

Lopez was making his first major-league appearance of the season after going 12-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Charlotte. He pitched six innings against the Orioles last season.

"All you really need is to see a pitcher once," said Baines, who watched films of Lopez before the game. "All you want to know is if his ball moves or not."

Belle dumped his 31st home run just over the scoreboard in right field, a poke McDonald called a "Camden Yards home run."

Gomez, battling a 10-for-73 slump heading into the doubleheader, didn't crush his home run, either, but it still counted as his 14th of the season.

Gomez's production through May and June made no one happier than club owner Peter Angelos, who persuaded the front office to hold onto the streak-hitting third baseman at the end of spring training. During Gomez's hot streak, Angelos took to calling Gomez his nephew. Gomez liked that.

It was Gomez who had the most creative idea to pass the time during the intermission.

"I'm going to ask my Uncle Angelos to buy a pingpong table so we can play between games," Gomez said.

Instead, the Orioles ate dinner.

LATE ORIOLES GAME

The start of the second game of yesterday's day-night doubleheader between the Orioles and Indians was held up by a 41-minute rain delay and did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions of The Sun and all editions of The Evening Sun. For a report on last night's game and other Orioles information, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800, ext. 5023 (in Anne Arundel County, call [410] 268-7736, ext. 5023).

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