O's make a big turn, win, 12-6

Trailing Jays 5-1, O's score 11 runs for 1st win in September

Top comeback since May 9

Longest losing streak since 0-21 avoided

Batista hits pinch HR

September 21, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - There have been more meaningful games for the Orioles this season but probably none more cathartic than last night's 12-6 beating of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Trailing 5-1 entering the seventh inning, the Orioles took out five weeks of frustration against a bullpen prematurely exposed by a trigger-happy manager. In the resulting uprising, they scored six runs in the seventh inning before adding five more with two outs in the eighth.

Pinch hitter Tony Batista's three-run home run against his former team and left-handed reliever Pedro Borbon capped a seventh inning that offered five Blue Jays pitchers and the Orioles' biggest rally since May 9. It also stemmed momentum that threatened them with their 11th consecutive defeat and longest losing streak since an 0-21 start to 1988.

The Orioles won for only the fourth time this season when trailing after six innings because Batista crushed a two-out, pinch home run off a pitcher imported to face left-handed cleanup hitter Chris Richard. Rather than trust right-hander Bob File against a sore-shouldered Richard, Blue Jays skipper Buck Martinez gambled that Orioles manager Mike Hargrove would resist going to his thin bench.

Martinez lost big.

Borbon warmed up by throwing little except off-speed pitches, a danger sign against the open-stanced Batista. Any doubts Martinez may have had about the matchup were realized when Batista launched a towering fly ball that cleared the left-field fence for the Orioles' second pinch home run this season. The six-run inning equaled the most runs the Orioles had scored in any of their last 17 games. The homer also was Batista's first since Aug. 21.

The inning reached Batista because first baseman Jeff Conine extended the rally with a two-strike infield hit that glanced off the glove of third baseman Felipe Lopez.

Martinez then called for his fourth pitcher in a four-hitter span. Borbon had surrendered a .315 average against right-handed hitters.

Until the breakout, the Orioles had stumbled for six innings against Blue Jays starting pitcher Cris Carpenter, who had only allowed a fourth-inning run on Cal Ripken's one-out single after Richard's double.

Carpenter entered the seventh inning having retired his last seven hitters. He got the first out of the inning before walking Brady Anderson then created a problem by allowing a single to catcher Brook Fordyce and hitting Jerry Hairston with a pitch.

Center fielder and new-look leadoff hitter Luis Matos brought the Orioles to within 5-3 and chased Carpenter with a double to right field. Martinez then began a left-right-left procession with Scott Eyre, who got the inning's second out on a pop out before yielding to File. Conine's two-strike single brought the Orioles within a run and served as a catalyst for the game's telling matchup.

Batista's home run gave the Orioles' their most dramatic win since Hairston beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with a ninth-inning home run on Aug. 1.

The second half had overwhelmed the good work of Hargrove's bullpen. A collection that entered last night's game with a 3.86 ERA since the All-Star break finally received a chance for its first save since Aug. 23. Trying to extend an eight-game winning streak against the Orioles, the Blue Jays pulled within 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning against Buddy Groom. However, Groom stranded the tying run at second base by keeping pinch hitter Tony Fernandez and Lopez in the infield.

John Parrish (1-1) gained his first win since Aug. 17, 2000, by following starter Josh Towers to get the last out of the sixth inning. Groom, Jorge Julio and Willis Roberts covered an inning apiece as the Orioles won by their widest margin since Aug. 19.

The Orioles resumed their beating against the Jays bullpen by loading the bases after two outs in the eighth inning then watching Brian Roberts line a three-run triple inside the right-field line for a 10-6 lead.

Not until the Orioles had sent 19 hitters to the plate in the seventh and eighth innings did the battering stop. Cheered in the seventh inning as if it might be his final at-bat in SkyDome, Ripken returned in the eighth to hammer a two-run double, giving him his first multi-RBI game since Aug. 19. A team noted for its absence of power finished with seven extra-base hits among its 13.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Yankees' Mike Mussina (15-11, 3.29) vs. Orioles' Rick Bauer (0-2, 4.00)

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