Another winning effort, loss for Wells Hard-luck lefty takes 3-hitter into 9th, to no avail


July 14, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

David Wells pitched well enough to win, yet lost again.

That's the trend with the left-hander these days.

Wells took a three-hitter into the ninth inning, and yielded only six hits and two earned runs in all, but came up a 3-2 loser to the New York Yankees in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader.

He picked up his ninth loss of the season. Despite walking no one. Despite matching a season high with eight strikeouts.

"That was an especially tough loss, but David pitched a good ballgame," manager Davey Johnson said. "He made good pitches the whole game."

Wells was incredible early.

He already had six strikeouts after fanning the side in the third inning. He struck out five of the six hitters he faced in the second and third innings.

He did not yield a hit until the fourth inning. He faced the minimum 18 hitters through six innings before B. J. Surhoff's error in the seventh led to an unearned run.

But the Orioles' inability to capitalize in the clutch (they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position) meant Wells had to be perfect in the ninth inning, leading 2-1.

"He completely dominated today," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He had easy innings. I saw no indication [he was tiring]. You can't fault him. He kept it away and all of a sudden a guy hits a triple off the wall."

The triple, by Gerald Williams, started the Yankees' ninth-inning rally. Joe Girardi's single scored Williams and Mariano Duncan's double drove home the game-winner, completing the comeback.

"Once I leave him out there and they tie the game," Johnson said, "I'm going to leave him to get out of it. . . . Unfortunately, we weren't able to."

It has been a season of streaks for Wells (5-9).

He finished April 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA, but that would change quickly. In his next 10 starts he went 2-5 with a 6.55 ERA.

Wells found his April form again in June. He salvaged a split of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium, nearly throwing the Orioles' first shutout of the year in a 9-1 win. He pitched a complete-game four-hitter, walking one and striking out two.

Wells always has had success against the Yankees, though. Including yesterday, he has a career record of 13-5 against New York with a 3.65 ERA.

He kept it going against Boston.

Wells was solid for eight innings in his last start, July 5 against the Sox, but went home a 7-3 loser when reliever Alan Mills inherited two runners and promptly served up a three-run homer to Jose Canseco in the ninth. Wells did not walk a batter in that start either and is allowing fewer than two walks per start on the season.

And the hard luck continued yesterday. Wells has won just twice in his past 10 starts.

"Boomer has pitched well enough to win his last four or five starts," pitching coach Pat Dobson said. "Boomer's been great. Sometimes it's not how good you pitch, it's when you pitch. Sometimes you just don't win."

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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