O's drench Indians in rain, 9-3 6-run downpour in 6th wraps up trip finale, boosts Krivda to 4-0

Game is called after 8th

Rough early, starter settles down, goes 6 1/3

September 10, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- They played the final game of a losing road trip in a steady downpour last night and wonder when their All-Star second baseman will be able to play more than six innings at a time. So why are the Orioles smiling?

Because they beat the Cleveland Indians, 9-3, on a rain-shortened getaway day that left them with only six regular-season road games.

Because combined with a loss by the Anaheim Angels, their magic number for a playoff berth shriveled to five. Despite the New York Yankees rallying to beat Boston, the figure for clinching the AL East dropped to 13, their lead remaining at eight games.

Because Rick Krivda has turned a throwaway August into a significant September.

Of course, they could have been chuckling from the visitors' dugout at the slapstick that rubbed out the ninth inning. When an anticipated downpour halted play after the eighth, the Jacobs Field grounds crew went about a comical attempt to cloak the field. After miscalculating where to place the tarp, leaving the first base line exposed, the crew twice tried to replace the cover.

They finally succeeded 15 minutes after play was stopped. The Orioles dugout applauded. Indians manager Mike Hargrove seethed as Cleveland's five-game winning streak came to an early end.

There was plenty of back-slapping to go with the knee-slapping. For the second time in six days, No. 5 starter Krivda came up huge at a pivotal time. Krivda survived an anxious start to keep the game under control until the Orioles predictably broke out for a six-run sixth inning. Whenever Krivda (4-0) pitches, the Orioles' bats get well as they pounded 13 hits, including bases-empty home runs by Geronimo Berroa and Brady Anderson. The Orioles have homered in 17 consecutive games. They have scored six runs or more in four of Krivda's seven starts.

Returning home for a day off followed by 14 home games in 12 days, the Orioles completed a 4-5 road trip that began with a three-game sweep by the Florida Marlins. They are only 6-9 since Aug. 26. Yet they added two games to their division lead during the run. Three wins over the Yankees last weekend gave them control of their division if not a nagging injury situation.

"We played well in the important games," said third baseman Cal Ripken, who contributed a double to the sixth-inning rally. "Obviously we played well in the Yankees series. That was extremely big."

tTC Manager Davey Johnson comes home relieved. The Orioles are 12 games into a 20-game stretch against teams with winning records and have held their ground.

"This time of year you're playing all these contenders," he said. "You have interleague play. It's a drain on your club. We're banged up. It's good to come home and have an off day."

As the Orioles (89-53) watched the Yankees rally from a four-run deficit against the Red Sox, they also battered Indians starter Chad Ogea (6-9) and out-of-control relievers Albie Lopez and Jason Jacome for a six-run sixth inning. They sent 12 batters to the plate, mashing five hits -- four for extra bases -- and ended a three-game mini-slump in which they had scored only eight runs.

Monday's defensive goat, right fielder Berroa, began the breakout with his 25th home run to lead off the sixth.

Ogea quickly disintegrated as first baseman Rafael Palmeiro singled and Ripken and Harold Baines each followed with wall-banging doubles to left. They continued against Lopez for two more runs on Aaron Ledesma's 200-foot double to center field and Berroa's ground ball. Second basemen Roberto Alomar, who played the first five innings before the rain intensified, and Ledesma combined for a 5-for-5 night.

But the night belonged to Krivda. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, walking three and striking out one. Most notably, he controlled the potentially explosive situations that ruined him last month.

"I still really think I need more consistency in my pitching," Krivda said. "Getting the ball down when I need to has been a problem all my career, and it's magnified at this level because the hitters are so good. You can't get away with it as much as you can in the minors. I believe in my stuff, no question about it. It's just when I need to bear down and make a pitch, I haven't been able to do that. That can hurt me in the long run."

In his past two starts, Krivda has hurt two playoff teams while helping to preserve a laboring bullpen, which has finally received an opportunity to rest the last four days.

In his first five starts, Krivda had trouble locating his changeup and pitched a total of 22 innings, allowing 19 earned runs and 28 hits. In his last two, he has gone 12 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and 13 hits. More impressively, the 27-year-old has consistently attacked hitters rather than nibble at them.

"It's a great time to be out there and show what I can do. I really think I'm stepping up to the challenge," Krivda said.

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