Orioles take a walk past Angels, 7-4 4 walks push across go-ahead run in 9th in 10th win in 11 games

Davis homers tie it twice

9 1/2 games back, 'I'd like to keep it together'

July 20, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Four ninth-inning walks and a two-out single by Cal Ripken accounted for a three-run rally last night that propelled the Orioles to a hand-wringing 7-4 win over the stumbling Anaheim Angels. Not only did the win lift the Orioles within 9 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox, it reminded a big-swinging team of the power of patience.

The 48-51 Orioles concluded a 4-1 road trip by winning their 10th of 11 games. When majority owner Peter Angelos discusses the state of the club with his brain trust tomorrow he will doubtless note that his team is only two wins removed from the identical 101-game record that preceded its 1996 wild-card berth.

Angels reliever Troy Percival allowed the Orioles a win without swinging the bat. Three consecutive two-out walks to Brady Anderson, Eric Davis and Rafael Palmeiro pushed across the winning run.

For a team that had done most of its damage during a nine-game win streak by playing ahead, this was heady stuff. The win was only the Orioles' fifth this season when trailing after six innings.

"I like what I'm seeing," said manager Ray Miller. "I know my feeling is to keep this going."

"Our job isn't to make statements," said Eric Davis, who hit two home runs to continue a recent tear. "Our job is to win ballgames. That's what we're doing right now. We're winning ballgames. The direction of this team is in the hands of other people. I'd like to keep it together, but that's not my decision."

Davis twice rescued the Orioles from deficits with his second multi-homer game this season. His sixth-inning homer brought about a 1-1 tie and a seventh-inning shot off reliever Greg Cadaret pulled the Orioles even 4-4.

Davis' offense was needed to overcome some slipshod fielding that contributed to two unearned runs against Orioles starter Mike Mussina, who went 6 2/3 innings in which he allowed seven hits, no walks and received nothing more than a handshake for what should have been a winning effort.

The decision went to Jesse Orosco (4-1), who won for the third time in two weeks in his 997th career appearance, and Armando Benitez got the final two outs.

"We've been through two tough months that I'd just as soon like to forget about," Orosco said. "Now we're on a roll. Let's enjoy this as long as we can. I think we deserve it. We're playing well. We're not lucking into anything. I think a lot of people have been waiting for this for a long time. Hopefully, not too long."

The Orioles played their poorest game of the second half in losing, 8-3, Saturday night. They received a 3 2/3 -inning start from rookie Nerio Rodriguez, managed only two hits after a two-run first inning, witnessed a sloppy bullpen effort and punctuated the loss by running into the game's final out at the plate.

Mussina's presence offered more. Unfortunately for the Orioles, his lineup couldn't generate more than Saturday's start-and-stop effort until the ninth.

Facing the much-traveled Omar Olivares, the Orioles managed a single in each of their first five innings but pushed only one runner into scoring position. Fighting a 5 o'clock shadow courtesy of a national telecast, the Orioles struck out seven times in the first five innings.

Mussina, 3-3 since returning from his second stay on the disabled list, was seeking his second win since June 22. He used the shadows to his advantage early, but couldn't overcome questionable defensive support.

Trouble started in the third inning when Justin Baughman smashed a one-hopper to Jeff Reboulet, who started because of Roberto Alomar's jammed right pinkie. The grounder jumped at Reboulet from the afternoon shadows and caromed off his glove. Scored an error, the play grew in significance when Baughman stole second, advanced on a grounder and scored on Darin Erstad's double to right-center field.

Mussina actually outpitched Olivares for five innings but trailed 1-0. The Orioles corrected the injustice in the sixth.

Davis extended his hitting streak to eight games by ripping his 14th home run to center field. The Orioles didn't stop there as Olivares put the lead run on base with a two-out walk of B. J. Surhoff. Chris Hoiles made him pay with an RBI double.

Mussina again fell victim to a bizarre defensive play when Hoiles was called for catcher's interference after Gary DiSarcina led off with a single. Scored as an error, the play allowed Erstad to reach with the go-ahead run.

Center fielder Jim Edmonds manufactured a 2-2 tie with a single to left field that scored DiSarcina. Mussina nearly escaped with a tie by striking out Tim Salmon and getting Cecil Fielder to nub a grounder. However, Mussina faltered against Garret Anderson, the Angels' hottest hitter but a career 1-for-19 vs. the Orioles' ace.

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