Orioles put a deep dent in A's, 18-5 O's 19 hits include 5 homers, 2 by Hoiles, for 12th win in last 16

Hammonds sprains knee

Mussina limits A's to 3 runs in 7 for win 15

August 16, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The pattern has become familiar. The Orioles play it close to the hip for six or seven innings, then bat around to turn a tight game into a torch relay.

This time, they did it twice, batting around in the seventh inning and again in the ninth to plaster the struggling Oakland Athletics, 18-5, and continue a late-season resurgence that has carried them back into contention in the American League East.

The aerodynamics of Oakland Coliseum appear to have changed since it was remodeled for football, and the Orioles sent five balls into the stratosphere on the way to their biggest offensive performance of the year.

Chris Hoiles had four hits, including his 19th and 20th home runs. Roberto Alomar also had four hits and drove in four runs. Rafael Palmeiro hit his 29th home run and drove in two more runs with a single. Bobby Bonilla launched a game-breaking three-run shot in a six-run seventh inning and added a two-run single in the eighth to help assure the club's 12th victory in the last 16 games.

The Orioles crept forward again, moving to within seven games of the idle New York Yankees in the AL East and three games of the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card race, but this victory did not come without a price.

Left fielder Jeffrey Hammonds suffered a sprained left knee trying to make a sliding catch on the football-ravaged turf that already has claimed A's outfielder Jason Giambi. Hammonds did not appear to trip over a divot as Giambi had. Hammonds' left leg seemed to snag on the grass and fold under his body as he slid under the ball. He had to be helped off the field.

Other than the field and Hammonds' injury, the Orioles had no complaints. Right-hander Mike Mussina turned in another strong performance, holding the A's to three runs on nine hits over seven innings to record his fourth consecutive victory and improve his record to 15-8.

"Moose threw the ball good tonight and the offense just exploded," Johnson said. "We've been scoring some runs in the late innings."

There figured to be some fireworks. The A's entered the game on top of the major leagues with 195 home runs, just four behind their franchise record. The Orioles arrived in town ranked second in the majors with 189. Both teams wasted no time improving on those totals.

Palmeiro pulled a towering fly ball into the right-field bleachers with the bases empty in the first inning for his 29th homer and 101st RBI. Palmeiro's two-run single later in the game left him two RBI away from matching his career high (105).

Oakland designated hitter Geronimo Berroa answered with a xTC shot to left leading off the second for his 31st homer.

Berroa set a career high with 22 home runs last year, but has blown right by that total to combine with Mark McGwire for the most homers by two players from the same team. They have 73 between them. Ken Griffey and Jay Buhner of the Seattle Mariners are second with 70. Brady Anderson, who returned to the lineup after a three-game absence, and Palmeiro are next with 66.

The A's didn't field their most potent lineup last night. McGwire was written out of the starting lineup to rest him for today's doubleheader, probably because of his .176 lifetime batting average against Mussina.

The return of Anderson gave Johnson the opportunity to field his most explosive starting nine, which includes eight hitters with at least 16 home runs, but the Orioles took it a run at a time against rookie right-hander Willie Adams. They regained the lead in the third inning on a leadoff single by Hoiles and a run-scoring double by Alomar.

Mussina looked like the rejuvenated starter who had won his previous three starts, giving up just four other hits through his first five innings of work, but the A's took advantage of a bad-hop single to tie the game in the third.

That would turn out to be so much trivia when the Orioles scored 15 runs the last three innings.

"It's kind of been that way the last couple of months," Mussina said. "If you stay in the game long enough, there's the feeling that we're going to score some runs. You know we're going to get three or four or five runs in one inning."

Hoiles continues to take charge at the plate. He already had extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with the third-inning single, but stepped up again in the fifth with a homer and added another in the eighth.

Orioles today

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum Time: Doubleheader beginning at 5: 35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Game 1: Ch. 54; Game 2: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM) both games

Starters: Game 1: Orioles' Scott Erickson (6-10, 5.16) vs. A's John Wasdin (7-5, 6.19); Game 2: Orioles' Rick Krivda (2-4, 5.10) vs. A's Doug Johns (6-11, 5.75)

Triple threat

The Orioles are second in the majors in homers, but are on pace to finish with more than the Athletics because the Orioles have played fewer games. Both teams, along with the Mariners, are on pace to break the 1961 Yankees' single-season team record for homers, 240:

Team .. .. .. .G .. .. ..HRs .. .. ...Pace

Athletics .. .123 .. .. .198 .. .. .. .261

Orioles .. ...120 .. .. .194 .. .. ...264

Mariners .. ..119 .. .. .179 .. .. .. .244

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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