Yanks bang out 9-8 win over Orioles

Runs in 7 innings, Spencer HR in 9th add to O's East cold front

1-3 on `must' homestand

Baines homers twice

Erickson yields 7 runs

June 26, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

Nothing has changed. The Orioles can play well or play poorly. It doesn't matter. The rival New York Yankees always seem to end up with the trump card.

Like clockwork.

Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines hit two home runs to engineer an exciting comeback last night, but the Yankees just kept hammering away until they scored a 9-8 victory before 47,936 at sold-out Camden Yards.

Left fielder Shane Spencer finally made the difference with a long home run off closer Mike Timlin to lead off the ninth inning and the Yankees put another crimp in the Orioles' midseason turnaround.

The loss was the third in a row for the Orioles, who rediscovered their offensive attack only to see it buried under 16 Yankees hits. The Yankees got to starter Scott Erickson early and went on to score in seven of the nine innings on the way to their fourth victory in a row.

Whether it's a phantom playoff home run or a relentless all-night onslaught, they always seem to have the last word.

"It may seem that way, but five walks and 16 hits, that's what makes it possible for that to happen [tonight]," said manager Ray Miller. "When they've already scored seven or eight runs, yeah, those things come back and beat you."

Instead of a feel-good festival that featured four RBIs by Baines and the all-time record 1,051st relief appearance by Jesse Orosco, the Orioles suffered through the latest in a series of frustrating losses to American League East contenders and dropped 11 1/2 games out of first place.

Erickson delivered another disappointing performance, giving up seven earned runs and raising his ERA to an inflated 6.66, but got off the hook when Baines launched a dramatic three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Orioles their first lead.

It was Timlin (3-6) who took the loss for surrendering the tie-breaking home run to Spencer, but it was Erickson who was still searching for answers long after the game was over.

"There's not much I can say. It's been bad for a long time now. It stinks," he said. "I'm just waiting for it to get better."

The Orioles have dropped three of the first four games of a seemingly critical six-game homestand against the two top teams in the division, failing to build on an exciting 11-1 stretch that seemed to reinvigorate the organization.

Beginning with the three-game midweek series against the Red Sox and continuing with road series against Toronto and the Yankees next week, the Orioles need to pick up as much ground as possible. And they need to establish that they can compete with the top teams in the AL East. So far, no good.

That has been a problem throughout Miller's tenure. The club was a combined 19-29 against AL East opponents last year. This year has been no better. The Orioles have yet to win a series against a divisional opponent. The frustrating series loss to the Red Sox was their sixth in a row and dropped their divisional record to 4-15, the worst of any AL team within its own division.

"That just shows that this is a pretty good division," Miller said.

The Yankees dominated the season series last year, winning nine of 12 games. They also won two of three in New York in April and wasted no time getting after Erickson last night.

Chuck Knoblauch opened the game with a single and streaked around to third on a base hit by Bernie Williams. Derek Jeter brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly and, after a single by Tino Martinez put runners at first and third again, Paul O'Neill flied out to bring home the second run.

"Scotty gave up an inordinate amount of two-strike hits," Miller said. "I don't know what it is. There are moments when he looks great and I know that he's trying hard -- maybe too hard."

Erickson could take solace only in his velocity. He was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, but still is not getting the movement or location that made him one of the most consistent pitchers in the league a year ago.

"That's the best fastball I've had all year, but I just couldn't put anybody away," he said.

The Orioles had been held to just one run over two previous games against the Red Sox. They would score more runs than that before their first out in last night's game, but still would have trouble keeping up with the Yankees.

Brady Anderson led off the Orioles' first with a walk and Mike Bordick sent him to third with a single to right. Bordick stole second before B. J. Surhoff lined a long single -- his first of three hits -- off the right-field scoreboard to bring home both runs.

Erickson seemed buoyed by the clean slate and retired the Yankees quickly in the second, but lost the plate in the third and would force home the go-ahead run with his third walk of the inning.

He continued to struggle in the fourth, giving up a one-out double to Scott Brosius and a run-scoring single to Knoblauch, but the Orioles also were able to keep the pressure on Yankees starter Hideki Irabu, even if they were unable to convert scoring situations in the second and third.

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