Wells' effort all for naught in Boston win Malave, Canseco hit three-run homers to seal 7-3 victory

Starter suffers eighth loss

Orioles trail Yankees by season-high 6 games

July 06, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Orioles starter David Wells kept his intensity high last night.

He pitched through fifth-inning adversity. A fly ball that Brady Anderson lost in the twilight sky, an RBI blooper just inches beyond Cal Ripken's glove and a subsequent three-run homer that was initially ruled a triple was all the damage the Boston Red Sox could mount against him in the first eight innings.

It was enough to put the Red Sox on their way to a 7-3 win, clinched by Jose Canseco's three-run homer in the ninth off reliever Alan Mills, before a Camden Yards crowd of 47,237.

It was enough to send Wells to his eighth loss of the season and drop the Orioles a season-high six games behind the New York Yankees. But it wasn't enough to provoke Wells to quit on the mound, as he did earlier this year.

In Anaheim and Detroit, when things didn't go his way and the runs mounted, Wells acknowledged giving up. Last night he kept battling after the Red Sox scored four times in the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead. Wells retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth to keep the Orioles within one run.

"He maintained really well," pitching coach Pat Dobson said. "I thought, all things considered, that was about as good a game as we've pitched all year. He stayed focused the whole game. That's what we've been looking for."

Wells wasn't hit hard. He was just hit. He was beaten by Red Sox starter Aaron Sele, whose work ethic has also been challenged at times. Sele finished with his longest start since July 1994, giving up four hits and three runs in 7 2/3 innings.

Wells was just as good, except for the fifth inning, which started innocently.

Brady Anderson appeared to have a play on a routine fly ball to center off the bat of Canseco to begin the inning. Luis Polonia approached, too, sensing Anderson had lost sight of the ball in the twilight sky. Polonia made a terrific attempt at a backhanded play, but the ball fell through and Canseco had a double.

"Strange things happen in baseball," said Dobson. "And that was strange."

Tim Naehring followed that with a base hit to right. Wells struck out Mike Stanley before the trouble really started.

Reggie Jefferson fisted a looper into left, just past Cal Ripken's outstretched glove, for one run. Then Jose Malave delivered a three-run homer to the roof of the groundskeepers' quarters in right.

Malave originally stopped at third base, but Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy rushed out to argue that the ball had hit the roof of the wall. First base umpire Derryl Cousins had ruled the ball in play, but on Kennedy's appeal second base umpire Ken Kaiser called it a home run, giving Boston a 4-3 lead.

"I thought David pitched better than Sele, except for one inning," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "David continues to go out there with great stuff."

Wells allowed six runs on nine hits in his eight-plus innings. Four of the hits came in the fifth. Wells had a shot at his second consecutive complete game but was lifted after giving up two hits to start the ninth inning. Enter Mills.

"I felt like [Wells] deserved the opportunity for us to win it for him in the bottom of ninth," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, Mills gave up the bomb. I was proud of David. This is a good-hitting club and he pitched very well. He didn't give them much."

"The bomb" was a three-run homer to left by Canseco to break the game open. The shaky 4-3 Red Sox lead became a 7-3 bulge.

"I think [Mills] missed his location," Canseco said of the pitch that triggered his 26th homer of the year. "That was too good a pitch for a hitter to miss. I drove through the ball. I had a lot of force on it."

It had been a duel of the hard-luck pitchers before that.

Sele matched Wells pitch for pitch. Like Wells, Sele threw 117 pitches and kept his composure when the Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the third.

Mike Devereaux led off the third with a walk and advanced on a fielder's choice. Chris Hoiles drove him home with a single to left field. Hoiles advanced to second base on the relay throw home by third baseman Naehring. Roberto Alomar walked and Anderson crushed a line drive over center fielder Lee Tinsley's head for a double. The ball bounced against the wall, scoring Hoiles and Alomar.

Bobby Bonilla led off the fourth with a single and became the last Oriole to reach base until the eighth, when Alomar drew a two-out walk and Sele exited.

Reliever Mike Stanton balked Alomar to second before getting Brady Anderson to line out to center to end the inning. Heathcliff Slocumb pitched the ninth.

"[Sele] kept everybody off balance," Alomar said. "If you keep everybody off balance, it's tough to hit him. He had a slow curveball and a good fastball that he moved in and out. That made him difficult to hit."

Just a little more difficult than Wells, perhaps. But no more tenacious.

Pub Date: 7/06/96

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