Bordick bails out O's in 11th

Homer drops Sox, 11-9, after O's blow 6-1, 7-6, 9-7 leads

Kamieniecki gets save

Go-ahead HRs in 8th, 10th negated by Rhodes

June 20, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- No longer satisfied with mere ordinary wins, the Orioles added a steep degree of difficulty last night to their 11-9, 11-inning decision over the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Blow a 6-1 lead as starting pitcher Scott Erickson reverts to his combustible April form, extend a three-run inning with two botched double plays, surrender 17 hits and lose ninth- and 10th-inning leads behind Arthur Rhodes. The 30-37 Orioles did all of the above but survived because of late-inning home runs by designated hitter Harold Baines, first baseman Will Clark and shortstop Mike Bordick.

The result was the Orioles' ninth win in 10 games, a win for Rhodes (2-2) and a reprieve from a night of second guessing.

Thank Bordick.

After saving the Orioles two runs in the fourth inning, he gave them two with an 11th-inning homer off Keith Foulke (0-1). It came after the Orioles had blown three leads, including a 7-6 advantage in the ninth inning and a 9-7 lead in the 10th. The late-inning craziness featured a game-tying double in the 10th inning by pinch hitter Jeff Liefer, who appeared only because the White Sox had relinquished their designated hitter the inning before.

Scott Kamieniecki picked up his second career save by serving as manager Ray Miller's emergency closer behind four other relievers.

"It was an unbelievable game," Bordick said. "They came back from 6-1. Harold hits a big home run, they answer right back. Will hits a big two-run home run, they answer right back. You think: What do you have to do?"

Kamieniecki began to warm when Rhodes entered the game. Two innings later, after Rhodes walked the eventual tying run in the ninth inning and allowed a two-out, two-strike double to left-handed Liefer in the 10th, Kamieniecki came on to earn his first save since April 22, 1993, while with the New York Yankees. "Our bullpen hasn't pitched that well," said Miller. "But it's hard to judge them in May and April because the starters were getting knocked out early and they're pitching so much. The starters have pitched good lately, but I'm still waiting for someone to step up."

The win was only the Orioles' fourth this season when surrendering more than five runs and put into sharper focus a team now able to overcome handicaps. The win, which leaves the Orioles as the league's hottest team this month, included the significant loss of second baseman Delino DeShields to a pulled hamstring.

Clark added to his recent surge by taking White Sox reliever Bob Howry for an opposite-field, two-run homer in the 10th. He has homered three times since June 12 after enduring almost a two-month drought. In his last 10 games Clark is batting .333 (12-for-36). Given Cal Ripken's second-inning blast, the Orioles scored seven runs on home runs, overcoming a 17-12 hit deficit.

"We're just playing pretty decent baseball now," Clark said. "One thing I've definitely seen is that guys at the plate are getting the job done."

"Our offense was awesome; they wouldn't let us give it away," Miller said.

The Erickson who pitched 15 combined innings in back-to-back wins was absent. Instead, the likeness of his earlier self reappeared, pitching too high in the strike zone when battling to escape bad counts. He faced at least five hitters in every inning except the second.

Miller has consistently ridden his rotation during his club's recent surge but exhausted his patience with Erickson during a complicated sixth inning. Shaky infield defense combined with Erickson's poor control within the strike zone to force him from the inning with two outs.

The White Sox have forever plagued Erickson. He is 3-11 record against them, including 1-5 with a 7.31 ERA in Comiskey Park.

Erickson, 3-8 and still unable to lower his ERA below 6.00, was abandoned by his defense and his bullpen during a three-run sixth. But Erickson also contributed to the meltdown with an awkward cover of first on a potential double-play grounder by Mark Johnson.

Perhaps sensing what was coming, Clark grimaced and angrily pumped his fist at first base.

"You really didn't see a chance to see many great defensive plays because guys were just pounding the ball," said Clark.

Bordick had provided the exception. With one out and two on in the fourth he laid out to his right to spear Mike Caruso's line drive, turning a two-run single into an inning-ending double play.

The sixth inning's lost defensive chance quickly became a run when Ray Durham and Caruso followed with singles. Leading 6-4, Erickson then induced a potential inning-ending grounder to third base from Frank Thomas. However, Ripken boxed a bad hop and was forced to settle for one out as Durham scored. A walk of Magglio Ordonez on his 122nd pitch spelled the end for Erickson, who left the tying run at second base.

Ricky Bones allowed Carlos Lee's single and walked Chris Singleton before being lifted himself. Jesse Orosco was imported to face third baseman Greg Norton and escaped on a fielder's choice.

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