Davis turns O's hurt to Boston pain DH replaces Baines, homers in 8th to end Martinez road run, 3-2

Ponson matches Red Sox ace

11-3 Cy Young star was 7-0 away from Fenway

July 11, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For once, an injury didn't leave the Orioles groping for something positive to say, didn't leave them cursing their luck and wondering when their penitence would end. Harold Baines went out, Eric Davis came in, and another one-run game ended in their favor.

Brought in as the designated hitter after Baines aggravated a strained hamstring, Davis homered off Boston ace Pedro Martinez with two outs in the eighth inning last night to give the Orioles a 3-2 victory before 48,043 at Camden Yards.

Davis' blast, his 12th this season, came against his former teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers and allowed the Orioles (40-50) to win consecutive games -- both 3-2 -- for the first time since June 19-20.

"I've got a lot of respect for Pedro. You've got to beat him. He won't give in. He'll come at you time and time again. This time, I beat him," said Davis, who pinch-hit for Baines in the sixth.

"It was a good situation for me to be able to come through like that. Our pitchers have been pitching their tails off the past week and we haven't been scoring a whole lot of runs."

He's obviously done the math. The Orioles have scored more than four runs in only two of their last 14 games. Their latest chance to break out came against Martinez, the equivalent of throwing a drowning team an anchor.

Rookie Sidney Ponson kept the Orioles afloat. And Davis, who has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, made the biggest splash.

Before Davis sent a 1-0 pitch arcing over the center-field fence, the Orioles hadn't gotten a hit since a fourth-inning single by Rafael Palmeiro, and Martinez had retired 12 of 13. But they managed to play their fifth straight one-run game largely because of Ponson.

Seemingly in an unfair fight, Ponson outdueled Martinez through six innings. He retired nine of 10 batters and took a 2-1 lead into the seventh before Mo Vaughn lined an 0-1 pitch into the first row of seats in left field for a 2-2 tie. It was Vaughn's 22nd home run and the 12th of his career at Camden Yards, tying Yankee Stadium for the most he's hit in an opposing ballpark.

Those were the only runs allowed by Ponson in 6 2/3 innings, to go with six hits, one walk and three strikeouts. He opened the game by throwing six straight balls, then received some simple instructions from manager Ray Miller.

"Ray told me to relax, settle down and pitch," Ponson said.

"Tonight," Miller said, "we saw the continued maturation of a fine young kid. He really impressed me. Obviously he was a little nervous in the first inning, but then he went right through them."

Alan Mills replaced Ponson and got the last out in the seventh, but gave up a leadoff single in the eighth to No. 9 hitter Darren Bragg. Darren Lewis sacrificed him to second, bringing left-hander Jesse Orosco (3-1) into the game. He retired pinch hitter Damon Buford and Nomar Garciaparra, the latter on a fly ball to the warning track in right with Vaughn on deck.

Orosco got Vaughn and left-handed Troy O'Leary in the ninth, setting up his second win in two nights. Armando Benitez struck out right-handed John Valentin for his 11th save.

Martinez (11-3) hadn't lost since June 5, and hadn't been beaten on the road all season, going 7-0 with three no-decisions. He had allowed one run or fewer in each of his last four starts, and in 11 of 18 overall.

Ponson? He picked up his second career victory on July 2 against the Florida Marlins. This was his eighth major-league start.

It shaped up as a mismatch of ugly proportions; Cy Young vs. Too Young. It turned into something far more interesting.

Ponson was the first to flinch. Lewis singled to right field with one out in the third inning and stole second. After nearly getting picked off, he scored on a single up the middle by Reggie Jefferson on a two-strike pitch.

Two batters later, Martinez's lead was gone. He struck out Lenny Webster, then served up a home run to Mike Bordick.

It was the second time this year Bordick had homered in consecutive games. He also took Bret Saberhagen deep on Thursday. This one traveled 378 feet, giving him seven homers this year, one short of his career high.

The Orioles reached Martinez again in the fourth. Baines and Palmeiro led off with singles. Joe Carter hit into a force at second and B. J. Surhoff brought in the go-ahead run with a fly ball to the warning track in left-center field.

Baines, making his first start since June 22, tweaked his hamstring after making a wide turn around second on Palmeiro's single and hustling back to second.

Carter stole second, then swiped third after Cal Ripken walked with two outs. He was stranded when Webster struck out. The last time Carter, 38, stole two bases in a game was July 19, 1994, while playing for Toronto.

Orioles today

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 1:15

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Red Sox's Tim Wakefield (10-3, 4.29) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (8-7, 4.24)

Tickets: Fewer than 100 remain

Pub Date: 7/11/98

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