O's trim Royals in 10

Belle's 29th home run, 350th of his career, wraps up 5-3 victory

Anderson hits two homers

Montgomery blows chance for 300th save

August 25, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rewarded for a ninth-inning comeback, the Orioles came out on the right side of dueling milestones last night when right fielder Albert Belle clubbed the 350th home run of his career to account for a 10-inning, 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals before 12,171 at Kauffman Stadium.

Winners of five of seven, the Orioles could point to numerous elements that contributed to their third win of the season when trailing after eight innings.

Brady Anderson accounted for the Orioles' first two runs on bases-emptyhomers, Al Reyes and Jim Corsi provided 10 outs after starter Jason Johnson's removal in the sixth inning and pinch hitter Derrick May extended the game with a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the ninth inning.

Belle's two-run homer against Royals reliever Derek Wallace came two innings after he drove Royals center fielder Carlos Beltran to the wall.

Down to their last out in the ninth inning against Royals closer Jeff Montgomery, the Orioles refused him his 300th save when pinch hitter May threw his bat at an outside pitch. The ball sailed into shallow center field, scoring pinch runner Rich Amaral.

The inning began with Harold Baines' single and gained momentum when Delino DeShields pulled a ground single to right field. May produced his second pinch RBI of the series just in time to spare Johnson a loss and send the Royals to their major league-leading 28th blown save.

"I'm comfortable with it," said May of his specialist's role. "It's pretty much the same thing I did with Montreal. I feel comfortable in that situation. Something is going to happen quickly. You're either going to be the hero or a goat. I can handle that."

"I've got someone [May] who listens to orders. You tell him he's going to hit late in the game and he's hitting. That's pretty good," said Miller.

The Orioles were denied a massive inning when left fielder Johnny Damon leaped above the left-field fence to deprive Charles Johnson of a three-run homer.

Belle's home run rewarded the good work of a rehabilitating Orioles bullpen and Anderson's 18th and 19th home runs. Scott Kamieniecki (2-4) earned the win for securing the final out of the ninth inning. Mike Timlin closed for his 17th save and second in as many nights.

The Orioles' ninth-inning rally allowed Johnson to leave with nothing more than a strong dose of frustration. He left after facing two hitters in the sixth inning having struggled with his command.

"I have the same confidence I've always had. It would be a different story if I was getting banged up every start. I kept the team in the game and we won. That's the way I look at it," Johnson said.

"I don't think he's really sure right now. He's worried about coming out of games and stuff like that. It's a learning process," said Miller. "He's learning to make pitches. But he had a big callus on his finger that broke. I didn't want to push him with that."

Anderson earlier had tied the game at 1-1 and pulled the Orioles within 3-2 with bases-empty home runs on consecutive at-bats. The bullpen and May did the rest as the Royals struggled for two singles over the last five innings.

Since being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers July 21, Reyes has helped restore order to what was long an amorphous bullpen. In 11 appearances, he has crafted a 1.13 ERA and allowed only 14 base runners in 16 innings. Initially allowed to pitch only when his team trailed, Reyes has emerged along with Corsi as the right-handed bridge to Timlin.

"Reyes has been outstanding and Corsi has done a good job. I've been begging for that for two years," Miller said. "These guys can get us through the sixth and seventh."

"I feel like I'm pitching with more confidence over here," said Reyes, who was exiled to Triple-A with the Brewers. "Over there, I had to think about what was going to happen after every game. Here I just get to pitch."

The Royals were able to do nothing with two singles and a stolen base in the first inning but managed an unearned run following DeShields' error in the second. Asked to range to his right on Jermaine Dye's leadoff grounder, DeShields could not make the play. Royals third baseman Joe Randa followed with a single that moved Dye to second.

Johnson struck out Jeremy Giambi for the inning's first out but Charles Johnson's passed ball allowed both runners into scoring position. Johnson walked No. 8 hitter Tim Spehr to load the bases before surrendering a sacrifice fly to second baseman Ray Holbert.

The inning was indicative of a start in which Johnson appeared to struggle for consistency. Except for a perfect third inning, he failed to retire consecutive hitters but benefited from two double plays in the first four innings.

The Orioles entered last night averaging five runs per game and hitting .283 for the month. However, Blake Stein shut them down except for two extra-base hits in the first five innings. Mike Bordick doubled with one out in the first inning but went no farther. In the third, Anderson led off with his 18th home run to force a 1-1 game.

Johnson fell victim to his own excesses in an abrupt sixth inning. A leadoff single by Dye and a walk of Randa -- Johnson's fifth -- moved Miller to summon Reyes. Johnson was clearly agitated but Miller could cite his ability to throw only six first-pitch strikes to 24 hitters as a just motivation. Of Johnson's 89 pitches, only 42 were strikes. His five walks tied a season high.

In his last five road starts, Johnson is 1-4 with a 9.41 ERA.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 8: 05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Doug Linton (0-1, 5.83) vs. Jeff Suppan (7-7, 4.03)

Pub Date: 8/25/99

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