Orioles get back on track, beat Tigers 12-9 win in slugfest ends four-game losing streak

Coppinger gets first win

Cal Ripken's 12th HR is 11th in 22 games

June 12, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers took two of three from the New York Yankees and beat the Orioles Monday night. Following this sabbatical, the Tigers continued in their relentless pursuit of baseball infamy last night against the Orioles.

Three Tigers pitchers accounted for three hit batsmen, two walks, nine hits and seven runs allowed -- in the first five innings, en route to a 12-9 loss, the sort of defeat that's become routine at Tiger Stadium this year.

The Tigers and Orioles have combined for 78 runs in five games this year, an average of 15.6 per game.

"I'll tell you one thing," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "These games are going to be the death of me."

The Orioles ended a four-game losing streak, with Cal Ripken hitting his 12th homer of the year and 11th in his past 22 games. Brady Anderson had a remarkable night without hitting a homer: He was hit by two pitches, stole three bases, scored two runs and drove in two.

Making the first start of his career, Rocky Coppinger, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, threw erratically and allowed his fair share of liners and long drives. But he pitched five innings, allowing five runs, and qualified for the victory. He struck out five, twice getting Tigers veteran Alan Trammell.

"Rocky pitched good," Johnson said. "I liked the way he threw the ball. He had a good fastball, he kept the ball down and threw a lot of strikes."

Good things do come to those who wait: The Orioles played in another of their marathons, 3 hours, 41 minutes, a game that required a total of 367 pitches.

Good things do come to those who wait, Part II. On May 24, Ripken had two homers and showed little pop in his bat. Manager Davey Johnson was talking about moving him to third, a proposal generated as much by Ripken's problems at the plate as anything.

But the next day Ripken hit his third homer, and he began to feel himself coming out of his power slump. He bashed five more the next week and hasn't stopped driving the ball. Batting with the Orioles leading 7-5 in the sixth inning, Ripken smashed a pitch from Tigers right-hander Bob Scanlan over the left-field wall.

Now Ripken, who looked to be struggling for 10 this year, has three in the Orioles' last three games and is on a pace to hit 32, two short of his career-high of 34.

The Orioles scored five runs against Tigers starter Felipe Lira in the third inning, but a case could be made that this really was set up in the first inning, with the first hitter. Anderson, leadoff hitter for the Orioles, stood in and traded blows with Lira, fouling off fastballs and forkballs, one after another. Anderson fouled off Lira's 12th pitch, and Lira turned and looked at Anderson and shook his head. Anderson flied to right on the 13th pitch, but Lira, who hasn't shown much durability, had exerted himself to get just one out.

The Tigers led 2-0 when Chris Hoiles hit a bases-empty homer off Lira leading off the third (Hoiles' 10th homer of 1996). Lira hit Anderson with a pitch, and with Manny Alexander batting, the Orioles tested his endurance again. Alexander fouled off a series of pitches, Anderson kept drawing throws to first; in that one sequence, Lira threw to first six times, and nine pitches to Alexander, before the Orioles' third baseman singled to left.

Staggered, Lira never recovered. Roberto Alomar, showing bunt early in his at-bat, eventually drew a walk to load the bases, and Rafael Palmeiro singled, pushing across Anderson and Alexander and giving the Orioles a 3-2 advantage.

That was enough to convince Tigers manager Buddy Bell that Lira was spent. Greg Keagle relieved, but that didn't stop the Orioles.

Bobby Bonilla pulled a grounder to the right side, where Detroit second baseman Mark Lewis made a diving stop. But rather than throw to first, where he may have had a play, Lewis looked across the diamond, to make sure Alomar didn't try to score. Bases loaded again.

Ripken singled, scoring Alomar. B.J. Surhoff grounded to

second, the first out of the inning, and Palmeiro ran home with the fifth run of the inning. Keagle pinched off the rally, striking out Mike Devereaux and Hoiles, the ninth and 10th hitters of the inning.

The Tigers came back for two runs in the fourth, but the Orioles immediately responded in the top of the fifth, Anderson singling home a couple of runs.

bTC Coppinger left with the Orioles' holding a comfortable three-run lead. Comfortable in any other year except 1988, that is. With strong back-to-back outings, the Orioles' staff hoped that Alan Mills had made irreversible progress.

Not so. The right-hander allowed a couple of hits and two walks and allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings, and the Orioles, who once held an 11-5 lead, had to go to Roger McDowell and Randy Myers to close out their 33rd win in 60 games.

Nothing's easy for the Orioles right now. Not even against the Tigers.

Orioles today

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Tiger Stadium

Time: 1: 15 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Scott Erickson (3-5, 5.32) vs. Tigers' Brian Williams (0-4, 6.13)

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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