Smith saves best for last this time

August 10, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Slumping and sickly Lee Smith earned his 33rd save of the season last night at Yankee Stadium.

Just barely.

Smith covered first base on Wade Boggs' grounder to first baseman Rafael Palmeiro in time to get the final out of a 6-5 victory over the Yankees in front of a boisterous Yankee Stadium crowd of 50,070.

Luis Polonia led off the ninth with a ground single to center, stole second and was sacrificed to third by Pat Kelly. Two ground balls later, Smith had his 33rd save and left-hander Jamie Moyer had his fifth victory.

Moyer allowed five runs, a home run, and eight hits in the first five innings and Mark Williamson was warming up in the bullpen.

Then Moyer righted himself, shut out the Yankees over his final three innings and watched Smith preserve the victory.

"Jamie was one pitch away from coming out of the game about a half-dozen times," Oates said.

"But he kept getting it done. It's good to be able to finish one off for him."

Moyer has come out of six games with a lead that later was blown.

The Orioles evened the three-game series that concludes tonight by earning their sixth win in nine games, one night after losing 6-5 in 11 innings. The Orioles moved back within eight games of the American League East-leading Yankees, with two games to go before the expected strike.

Leadoff hitter Brady Anderson provided the spark, contributing three hits, two runs and the game-winning hit, a two-run single with two out in the sixth inning.

"We're playing real well now, and the Yankees are playing great," Anderson said. "Those were the best back-to-back games we've been in as far as both teams playing well and the games being close the whole way."

Moyer improved to 5-7 with the win. Yankees left-hander Jim Abbott (9-8) was charged with the loss.

In his previous start, Moyer took himself out with a one-run lead after eight innings, and the Minnesota Twins scored two in the ninth off Smith to deny Moyer the victory.

This time, Smith made the lead stand up.

In Monday night's series opener, Orioles manager Johnny Oates left Smith in the bullpen with a one-run lead in the 10th inning, saying he wanted his flu-ridden pitcher to rest.

He didn't hesitate to call on Smith this time after Moyer had

thrown 124 pitches.

Smith, who had blown three of his previous six save

opportunities, responded.

"My mechanics were real good tonight," Smith said. "I had to throw good tonight because I'm tired of Elrod [Hendricks] telling what I'm doing wrong every day. I told myself I've got to throw right so Elrod will shut up."

A lively offense helped Moyer overcome a 5-3 deficit.

The Orioles took advantage of Abbott's control problems. He threw two wild pitches and allowed six earned runs on six hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Abbott was so wild he walked Mark McLemore, a .157 hitter against left-handers, with the bases loaded and two out in the Orioles' three-run sixth inning.

At that point, Yankees manager Buck Showalter lifted Abbott and brought in left-hander Paul Gibson to face Anderson. Anderson delivered his third hit, a two-run single to left that gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead, their third of the night.

As they did Monday night, the Orioles jumped out early, and the Yankees answered.

The Orioles scored a run in the first and the Yankees tied it in the bottom of the inning. The Orioles scored two runs in the third and the Yankees tied it again with two in the bottom of the inning.

The Yankees took their first lead of the night with a pair of runs off Moyer in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.

The Yankees caught a break when Bernie Williams was awarded a double after Anderson had held him to a single. A fan seated alongside the left-field line leaned over and caught a piece of the ball and Williams was awarded second when it was ruled he could have gotten there had the ball not been touched.

A long argument ensued, Oates arguing that the runner already had stopped at first. He lost the argument and the Yankees continued to hit Moyer hard after play resumed.

Williams scored on Paul O'Neill's one-out double that leaping right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds got a glove on but could not catch.

Mike Stanley drove in his second run with a single that scored O'Neill and gave the Yankees a two-run lead.

The Orioles had taken a 3-1 lead in the third. Anderson led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a walk to Hammonds. Both runners moved up on an Abbott wild pitch. Palmeiro got Anderson home with a groundout and Cal Ripken delivered Hammonds with a single to left-center.

Boggs started the Yankees' two-out, game-tying rally in the bottom of the inning by crushing a 3-1 Moyer pitch over the right-field fence for his 11th home run, trimming the Orioles' lead to a run.

Moyer then walked O'Neill, who scored from first on Stanley's double off the wall in left-center to tie the game at 3.

The top of the Orioles' order was responsible for giving them a short-lived lead in the first inning.

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