A tired bullpen and a starter who hadn't been able to go beyond the sixth inning in his previous four starts were a dangerous combination for the Orioles to bring into Camden Yards yesterday. And just the right spark to ignite chants of "1969" among a smattering of New York Mets fans.
Seemingly able to place the ball in every bit of open territory against Rick Krivda and two relievers, the Mets abused Orioles pitching for 19 hits and evened this interleague series with a 13-6 victory before 48,068.
It was the Mets' 40thcomeback victory of the season, tops in the major leagues. And it went from subtle to sadistic, as the Mets broke the game open with four runs in the seventh inning and didn't let up, becoming the first team to score in double digits against the Orioles since July 20.
Edgardo Alfonzo matched his career high with four hits. Bernard Gilkey equaled his career high with four RBIs, three coming on a ninth-inning home run off Alan Mills. Luis Lopez knocked in three runs, and Carl Everett had three hits as a New York team beat the Orioles for the first time in six tries this season.
Every Mets starter had at least one hit except shortstop Rey Ordonez, and even he reached on a seventh-inning walk.
The Orioles got home runs by Chris Hoiles (3-for-4) and Brady Anderson, and Mike Bordick's first two RBIs since Aug. 12. Jeffrey Hammonds singled in a run in the fourth, but departed after seven innings after aggravating his strained left Achilles' tendon while running down a single in right field.
"He wanted to stay in there, but he was dragging," said manager Davey Johnson. "He's been dragging off and on. It just scares me."
"It's nothing to be alarmed about," said Hammonds, whose foot slid on the grass as he tried to plant to throw. "It hasn't got any worse."
The game certainly did for the Orioles (85-47), who led twice and were locked in a 5-5 tie after five innings before losing for the third time in 10 games.
Terry Mathews (3-3), called upon in the fifth to rescue Krivda, allowed four hits and was charged with two runs in two innings. But he could be thankful for one rather large favor: He wasn't Mills.
Making his longest appearance of the season because Johnson had no other choice, Mills was torched for six runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"If my going three innings makes the bullpen stronger tomorrow, then it was worth it," said Mills, who threw 56 pitches. "But it's not much fun out there when you're giving up runs."
Johnson said this was the most helpless he had been going into a game because of limited pitching options, which didn't bode well for Mills. "I told him, 'Don't go sticking your hand through a concrete wall,' " Johnson said. "You did something to pick up the team. The results weren't what you wanted, but you saved the 'pen.
"We took one on the chin. It was a team loss."
To find comfort, Johnson needed only to look at the television screen in his office, which showed the New York Yankees losing to Montreal and remaining 7 1/2 games back in the AL East. Otherwise, there were disturbing signs in every direction, beginning with Krivda, who couldn't hold leads of 3-0 and 5-2.
He also couldn't ease the burden on the bullpen, which already was weary before having to work overtime Friday night in the Orioles' 4-3, 12-inning victory. It remains short-handed until Shawn Boskie is activated from the disabled list tomorrow.
The Mets didn't land many heavy blows on Krivda, but slapped him around enough in the fourth and fifth innings to chase him.
The Orioles were ahead 3-0 in the fourth before consecutive two-out singles by the Mets' Alex Ochoa, Brian McRae and Lopez delivered two runs. Ochoa, once the top prospect in the Orioles' system, reached for a pitch up and outside and poked it into center to score Gilkey, who had walked and stolen second. McRae beat out a slow roller to the left side, and Lopez dumped an RBI single in front of center fielder Anderson.
The first extra-base hit off Krivda came on his last pitch. With one out in the fifth, he hung a curveball to catcher Todd Pratt, who lined a double to left-center field to tie the game at 5 and summon Mathews into the game. Alfonzo started the rally with an infield hit, Gilkey walked and Butch Huskey blooped a single.
Under normal circumstances, Johnson said he would have removed Krivda sooner. "I was hoping to get at least five out of him," he said.
Krivda was coming off his finest outing since being called up last month, limiting Kansas City to one run and striking out six in 5 1/3 innings. He made the Aug. 21 start on five days' rest, when he's 2-0 with a 3.37 ERA. He didn't pitch again until yesterday, and his ERA swelled to 12.86 when getting more than five days off.
He's scheduled to open the four-game series against the Yankees in New York on Thursday. Asked if Krivda still was in the rotation, Johnson said, "Yeah, as far as I know."