SEATTLE -- No lead is ever safe against the Mariners, Orioles manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday night. Seattle proved his point last night.
Ken Griffey tied the score in the bottom of the ninth with a homer off Orioles closer Randy Myers, and Russell Davis hit a bases-loaded single with two outs to win, 9-8.
"I was just missing my pitches," said Myers, making his first appearance since May 19. "I didn't feel comfortable out there. I was off two or three inches with all my pitches."
Johnson was asked about Seattle's ability to come back repeatedly on the Orioles.
"I don't know, it seems like everybody we played this year," the manager said.
Brady Anderson and Cal Ripken homered for the Orioles, and Roberto Alomar had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. The Orioles missed a chance to take a one-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East race.
The Mariners had taken a 4-0 lead early, blown that, with the Orioles moving ahead 7-4. Seattle then tied the score at 7 in the bottom of the seventh, when Jay Buhner hit a three-run homer, his second home run of the game.
Mike Devereaux opened the ninth with a walk against Seattle's Norm Charlton. Devereaux advanced to second on a wild pitch. Alomar then pulled a grounder to Davis at third, but the ball rolled through his legs and into left and Devereaux scored the tie-breaking run standing up. Charlton got out of the inning without further damage when Ripken hit into a double play.
Myers took the field for the bottom of the ninth, to an unusual backdrop: The JumboTron over left field showed scenes from "Rocky II," when Rocky's bedridden wife tells him to win the big fight.
And the Mariners did. Alex Rodriguez grounded out, but Griffey unloaded a tremendous home run to center, the crushing sound of his bat reverberating through the Kingdome.
Edgar Martinez doubled, and Myers intentionally walked Buhner, and when pinch hitter Brian Hunter singled to left, Martinez stopped at third. Dan Wilson hit a chopper to third, with the Orioles getting a force at home plate. But then Davis, whose error had cost the Mariners a run in the top of the inning, hit a line drive off the right-field wall, driving home the winning run.
bTC First-inning homers by Martinez and Buhner off Mike Mussina helped Seattle build a 4-0 lead. But Ripken hit an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth, and Anderson hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, his 20th of the year (Anderson's career high, believe it or not, is 21, set in 1992), drawing the Orioles within 4-3.
The Orioles moved ahead 5-4 when Ripken bashed a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Ripken had three homers in the Orioles' first 47 games of the season, but he's hit four in the last two days.
Run-scoring singles by Alomar and Bobby Bonilla added to the Orioles' advantage, and with Mussina on the mound -- seemingly past some early-inning problems with plate umpire Ray DiMuro -- and relievers Roger McDowell and Myers rested and ready in the bullpen, the Orioles appeared to have matters well under control.
But Darren Bragg singled leading off the Mariners' seventh, and after Rodriguez flied out, Griffey doubled into the left-center field gap. Johnson hustled out of the dugout to relieve Mussina, who had many choice words for DiMuro as he departed.
Mussina was out, McDowell was in. Martinez smashed a one-hopper back at McDowell, the ball appearing to hit the inside of McDowell's left leg. He recovered and threw home, and the Orioles began a rundown that ended with McDowell tagging out Bragg at home.
But Bragg had banged a forearm against McDowell's left shin, and Johnson and trainer Richie Bancells rushed to the mound to check on the right-hander. He threw several warm-up pitches, testing his bad leg, before declaring himself fit to pitch.
Buhner, who had waited patiently, dug in at the plate and McDowell dug in at the mound, throwing a sinker that stayed up, and Buhner crushed it. McDowell refused to watch the ball leave the premises; he came into this year having allowed the fewest homers per nine innings (0.39) of any pitcher in the majors, and Buhner had just hit the fourth against McDowell this season. Tie score.
McDowell left after the inning with a contusion on his left shin and is expected to be day-to-day.
The trouble between the ace and the ump, Mussina and DiMuro, began in the first inning. Griffey was batting with two outs and Mussina threw a 3-2 curve that bent over the plate, maybe too high, maybe not. DiMuro thought it was a ball, Mussina a strike, and, as Griffey walked to first, Mussina yelled something at DiMuro.
A two-out walk isn't usually a life-and-death issue for Mussina. But the two hitters following Griffey in the Seattle lineup typically rip Mussina. Going into last night's game, Martinez vs. Mussina: eight hits in 21 at-bats (.421), with a double, two triples and two homers. Buhner vs. Mussina: seven hits in 18 at-bats (.389), with a double and two homers.
If Mussina didn't know these numbers, precisely, he certainly knew Martinez and Buhner give him problems.
Mussina threw a fastball inside to Martinez, and Martinez went inside-out with his swing and powered a high drive to right. The ball cleared the railing above the wall, and Mussina was in front of the mound, barking at DiMuro.
Mussina went back onto the mound, saw a signal for a fastball to Buhner, threw a fastball. Wham. Another long drive, to center, where Anderson took a few steps before giving up. For the seventh time this year, the Mariners had back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches, and for the second time in 11 days, Martinez and Buhner hit back-to-back pitches against Mussina for homers. They had pulled this off in the third inning May 19.
Pub Date: 5/30/96