Orioles bring it on home Kamieniecki, Key baffle Indians for 8

Myers survives ninth

Davis pinch HR in 9th big

Down 3-2, O's ride unlikely duo home for Mussina, Erickson

GAME 5 Orioles 4, Indians 2

October 14, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- One began the series in a pitching no-man's land, stuck somewhere between the rotation that needed him during the regular season and the bullpen that offered him a glimmer of opportunity in October.

The other limped into the playoffs rated as a non-factor at home and a question mark on the road, his 16 wins devalued by two unproductive months.

Together, Scott Kamieniecki and Jimmy Key last night grabbed the Orioles by the neck and lifted them from a dead man's float. Covering eight shutout innings of a 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, the odd couple restored life to a team that still trails 3-2 in the American League Championship Series but now sees its way home.

After a day off, the series returns to Camden Yards for tomorrow afternoon's Game 6 and a possible Game 7 Thursday night. Stunned after falling behind 3-1 in the series, the Orioles regained their wind last night and now covet the chance to reverse a tight situation with Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson.

"They've got to win one game, and we've got to win two. I don't know who the pressure's on," said Key after making his first relief appearance in almost five years. "They've got a very good ballclub; we've got a very good ballclub. If we win Game 6, I think the pressure's on them in Game 7. But we've got to win Game 6. I still think the ball's in their court and we've got to take it away from them."

The Orioles almost received enough offense from right fielder Geronimo Berroa's two-run single in the third inning and more than enough inspiration in a two-run ninth when pinch hitter Eric Davis greeted left-handed reliever Paul Assenmacher with a towering home run. The inning kept going when Rafael Palmeiro doubled then scored on B. J. Surhoff's single.

All of it overcame a strong performance by Indians starter Chad Ogea and a weak one by Orioles closer Randy Myers. Ogea received his second loss of the series for eight strong innings in which he allowed two runs.

The Indians created a scare with two ninth-inning runs off a vulnerable Myers, who has now surrendered three earned runs in three appearances in this series.

Matt Williams followed David Justice's leadoff single with a double into the left-center-field gap. Williams then scored on Tony Fernandez's double. Marquis Grissom's single on a come-backer off Myers put the tying run on with one out and restarted the Orioles' bullpen. Myers recovered to strike out Bip Roberts before second baseman Roberto Alomar made a pinwheel throw after backhanding Omar Vizquel's bouncer up the middle to end the game.

"You've been around awhile, you've seen everything and you've been through everything. I was just doing the best I could do when I was out there and trying to make good pitches," Key said.

This series already has seen it all. The Indians have won a game on a steal of home and scored two runs on the same wild pitch. It was the Orioles' turn this time.

"I wasn't going to back down," Kamieniecki said. "If they wanted it, they were going to have to come get me."

Kamieniecki allowed four hits in five innings before leaving with a sore right elbow. Key, who has won once at home since May 7 and was dropped from a second start in this series, made his most powerful contribution since July. He pitched three no-hit innings against a lineup that hassled him for two runs and 10 base runners in four innings only four days before.

"I was hoping not to pitch tonight because that would mean Kammy would pitch good, we would get to Armando [Benitez] and Randy and the game would be over," Key said. "I felt if I was pitching there were some problems. So I was hoping not to pitch."

If there is such a thing as postseason momentum, the Orioles must have stolen it last night. They hushed a Jacobs Field crowd of 45,068 with pitching and energized a nervous dugout with their bats.

"As crazy as this series has been, I don't think that anybody can feel confident about anything," said Indians manager Mike Hargrove. "Certainly, I feel better about our situation than the situation that they're in, but it's going to be tough in Baltimore. They have a very good ballclub. It's come down to the last two games."

Davis' pinch home run was only the Orioles' second of the season. It also removed the pressure from a bullpen that had been second-best in the series. The cushion was crucial as Myers flopped around with a four-run lead.

"The mood has never changed," said Kamieniecki. "We got a little down after the last three games, but that was to be expected because of the way we lost those games.

"We've always felt confident. As little a chance as it might be, we feel we still have a chance until they deep-six us. We will keep coming out here and competing."

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