Second rally does trick, 12-7 O's blow six-run lead but take fifth straight

no-decision for Coppinger

September 14, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Unable to make it stick the first time, the Orioles twice had to break open yesterday's game against the Anaheim Angels. In doing so, they claimed another victory, but took something away from starter Rocky Coppinger.

Seeking his first major-league victory in more than a year, Coppinger settled for giving the club five decent innings and watching its winning streak grow to five games. The Orioles batted around in the third inning, sent nine more to the plate in the seventh and defeated the Angels, 12-7, before 48,013 at Camden Yards.

Those were the most runs scored by the Orioles (76-72) since a 15-3 win in Cleveland on Aug. 14. They were ahead 7-1 through four innings yesterday before the Angels rallied to tie in the seventh. If Anaheim had won, it would have marked the Orioles' biggest blown lead of the season and prevented a sweep of the AL West leader.

But Rafael Palmeiro lined a double into right field off reliever Jarrod Washburn (5-3) in the seventh to score pinch runner Rich Becker with the go-ahead run. A two-out single by Mike Bordick off Pep Harris brought in two more, and a passed ball increased the lead to 11-7. Bordick's hit was the 10th for the Orioles, and the first by a right-handed batter.

A bases-loaded walk to Willie Greene in the eighth completed TTC the scoring and ensured that Jimmy Key (6-3), who allowed a two-run double by Craig Shipley in the seventh that tied the score, would gain his first victory since Aug. 7 in Minnesota.

"I've answered all the questions about being a spoiler," said manager Ray Miller, whose club is 7 1/2 games behind Boston for the wild card with 14 remaining. "We're still alive, and if we win 14 more, you [reporters] will have a lot more to write about."

"We've had good streaks and bad streaks," Palmeiro said. "We just needed to be more consistent. I can't explain it."

The Orioles appeared to get all the runs they needed in the third inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six times for a 6-1 lead. Harold Baines, who went 4-for-4, and B. J. Surhoff each doubled in two runs off starter Jack McDowell. A throwing error by first baseman Chris Pritchett had allowed the first run to cross and hastened McDowell's departure after only 2 1/3 innings.

Brady Anderson hit a bases-empty homer in the fourth that traveled 396 feet to right and increased the lead to 7-1. But the game slowly began to unravel from there, with Coppinger getting tangled in the mess.

Admittedly nervous as he made his first major-league start since May 9, 1997, Coppinger surrendered Jim Edmonds' first career leadoff homer to quickly fall behind. He permitted a single to Troy Glaus in the second, then retired nine of the next 10 batters before Randy Velarde hit a fly ball to right that bounced on the warning track as Eric Davis drifted back and made a futile leap.

Garret Anderson doubled to left-center field to score Velarde, and Coppinger hung a slider to Tim Salmon that was launched into the Orioles' bullpen, reducing the lead to 7-4.

Coppinger got the last two outs, striking out his final batter, Pritchett, on a changeup. Left-hander Arthur Rhodes was charged with a run in the sixth and another in the seventh after Key entered, and Shipley's double assured that Coppinger would remain winless with the Orioles since May 4, 1997.

Elbow and shoulder injuries limited him to four starts last season and required surgery in August.

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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