O's 2-by-4 builds win streak to 4 Two four-run innings, Johns' relief finish sweep of Boston, 11-7

Longest streak since April

Davis (5 RBIs): 'This team's not going to quit'

July 13, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles broke their streak of one-run games yesterday. In doing so, they also continued to repair a damaged reputation and renewed faint hopes of getting back into the wild-card chase.

Only time will determine whether it's too late.

A pair of four-run innings and another steady piece of relief work by Doug Johns carried the Orioles to an 11-7 victory over Boston before 48,193 at Camden Yards, completing their first four-game sweep of the Red Sox in 18 years and the first in Baltimore since 1961.

Eric Davis hit his 10th career grand slam in the third inning off South Korean right-hander Jin Ho Cho, barely reaching the Orioles' bullpen to stake Doug Drabek to a 4-0 lead. After a six-run top of the fifth by Boston, B. J. Surhoff took Drabek off the hook in the bottom of the inning with a two-run single that followed an RBI hit by Brady Anderson and a sacrifice fly by Davis.

"We didn't have much go right for us in the first half," said manager Ray Miller, unbeaten since the All-Star break. "Hopefully things are turning around."

Before yesterday, the Orioles (42-50) hadn't won more than three straight games since reeling off seven in a row after Opening Day. They also hadn't swept a four-game series since July 1995 in Chicago, and hadn't done it here since August 1993.

By polishing off the Red Sox, the Orioles closed to within 11 1/2 games in the wild-card race, still too far to get excited but near enough to dream.

"We dug a hole for ourselves, but who knows?" Miller said. "How well is Boston [52-37] going to hold up? How well is Anaheim [51-39] going to hold up?"

How could the Orioles have considered catching either team before their second-half surge? They haven't lost since ending the first half by being swept in New York. They also had played six consecutive one-run games until yesterday, and got over their obsession with low-scoring affairs.

They hadn't totaled this many runs since an 11-3 win over Toronto on June 20. That also had been the last time they scored four runs in an inning until doing it twice yesterday.

Shortstop Mike Bordick was the only Orioles starter without a hit, but he walked twice.

"We needed a blowout and the guys came out swinging the bats today," Davis said.

Such production was necessary. Given a 4-0 lead, Drabek buckled. He got away with a walk and double in the fourth, but was chased the next inning after allowing a bases-loaded double to Darren Lewis and a two-out, two-run single to Nomar Garciaparra that tied the score.

Left-hander Norm Charlton entered and served up a two-run homer to Mo Vaughn, his 23rd this season and 13th career at Camden Yards, tying Chicago's Albert Belle for the most by an opposing player.

Left-handers were hitting .348 off Charlton before he entered, but Vaughn was 0-for-9 with six strikeouts lifetime. Arthur Rhodes, another left-handed option, would have gotten the call if not for a sore elbow that could force him to the disabled list.

Charlton still was in position to get the victory after the Orioles batted around in the fifth, just as the Red Sox had done in the top of the inning, but the win went to Johns under baseball's ineffectiveness rule. Johns allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings for his first career victory in relief, and Alan Mills pitched the final 1 1/3 for his first save this season.

It was Drabek's sixth straight start allowing four or more runs, with his longest effort in that span being 5 1/3 innings against Seattle June 2.

In his last outing, Johns held Florida to one run over five innings after replacing Pete Smith on July 1. His latest achievement came, in part, because of some fifth-inning strategy by Red Sox manager Jimy Williams that backfired. Williams tried playing the percentages with the game tied, 6-6. Instead, he played to Surhoff's strengths.

Williams ordered left-hander Ron Mahay to walk Joe Carter, who had struck out twice, with one out and first base open, bringing up the left-handed-hitting Surhoff. A career .442 hitter with the bases loaded before yesterday, Surhoff reached down for a 3-2 pitch that nearly brushed the plate and poked it into right field.

"I was almost happy when they walked to get him up there because he's just been devastating with the bases loaded," Miller said.

"I did it," Williams said, "because we had a left-hander on the mound and we wanted to set up the double play."

Said Surhoff, who added an RBI single in the eighth: "I just try and relax a lot more because I know the guy's got to throw a strike sometimes, and I don't try to do too much. I don't try to hit a home run. I've hit a couple grand slams, but they've come by accident."

To Davis, the Orioles' reversal is no accident.

"This team's not going to quit," he said. "This is a start, but we still have a lot of games to go."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Blue Jays' Juan Guzman (4-10, 5.01) vs. O's Nerio Rodriguez (0-2, 14.21)

Tickets: About 8,000 remain

Big relief

In the four-game sweep of the Red Sox, the Orioles received not only three strong starts, but also a 2.00 ERA in nine innings from their bullpen, which gained credit for three of the wins.

Reliever .. G .. IP .. H .. ER .. W/Sv

Orosco . .. 3 .. 2 2/3 .. 1 ... 0 ... 2/1

Benitez ... 2 .. 1 1/3 .. 0 ... 0 ... 0/2

Mills .. .. 2 .. 2 ... 1 ... 0 ... 0/1

Charlton .. 1 ... 1/3 .. 1 ... 1 ... 0/0

Johns .. .. 1 .. 2 2/3 .. 2 ... 1 ... 1/0

Totals . .. 9 .. 9 ... 5 ... 2 ... 3/4

Pub Date: 7/13/98

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