Telford shows he is back in control


Forget the splashy debut against the world champion Oakland Athletics. The Orioles got a better look at the real Anthony Telford yesterday.

"That's the sharpest he's been," manager Frank Robinson said after Telford (2-2) worked into the seventh inning of the 3-1 win over the California Angels at Memorial Stadium. "He has the stuff to win up here without making adjustments."

Not that one hit in seven innings (the total of Oakland's offense in his debut Aug. 19) is to be dismissed lightly. It's just that Telford wasn't with his normal game plan, and realizes he might have gotten some help from Oakland's aggressive swingers.

"They swung at a lot of breaking balls when they were ahead in the count," said the righthander. "I didn't really throw that good."

For the first time in his five major-league starts since being promoted from Double A Hagerstown, Telford was consistently ahead of the hitters, one of his trademarks in the minor leagues. "I still walked a couple [Rick Schu with two outs in the second, Max Venable with one out in the sixth], but for the most part I threw strikes and got ahead.

"My last start, I just had a really bad outing," said Telford, who gave up five hits and four walks in two innings of a 6-2 loss to Seattle. In that game his ratio of strikes (30) and balls (29) was horrible -- especially for a control pitcher.

"I talked with [pitching coach] Al Jackson and decided I had to go for more of the white part of the plate, instead of trying to stay on the black," said Telford. "That's how I have to pitch. If I'm going to get hit, let it be early in the count, not because I'm behind."

The Angels didn't seriously threaten until Brian Downing followed Venable's walk with a run-scoring double. When Schu singled and Pete Coachman doubled in the seventh, Robinson started a parade of four relievers. Jose Bautista, Joe Price, Curt Schilling and Gregg Olson retired the last eight hitters without incident to give the Orioles a sweep of the three-game series, their longest winning streak since July 19-23.

* HE'S BACK: Olson picked up his first save since Aug. 21 with a strong inning that left Robinson satisfied his ace closer has recovered from the elbow soreness that sidelined him from Aug. 28 until Friday, when he worked the final inning in a 6-2 win.

It was the 30th save of the year for Olson, who becomes only the second Orioles reliever to reach that figure. Don Aase's club record of 34, set in 1986, is within reach.

Olson said he felt "almost back to normal," yesterday, needing only a little work to feel comfortable again. "His first outing [Friday], he just needed to get out there," said Robinson. "He was sharper this time and looked like his old self. He had good velocity, a good break on his curve and his control was fine, so I would say he's back in the groove."

* MILLIGAN UPDATE: Randy Milligan received another cortisone shot over the weekend and took batting practice yesterday. But it is still uncertain when, or if, the first baseman will return.

Milligan, who leads the club with 20 home runs despite being out since Aug. 7, is anxious to return, while Robinson remains skeptical. "All I know is what I read in the papers," Robinson said when asked if he thought Milligan would be back this season.

* ELBOW ROOM: Brian DuBois, the lefthander who was reacquired from Detroit, will undergo his elbow surgery a week from Wednesday.

The operation will be similar to the ligament transplant made famous by Tommy John, and will require at least a year for full recovery.

* AROUND THE HORN, PART I: Sam Horn enjoyed his best series since the opening two games in Kansas City, driving in five runs against the Angels. The designated hitter was 5-for-8 with two doubles and a home run.

* AROUND THE HORN, PART II: The Orioles are the first AL East team to conclude play against the Western Division, finishing with a 42-41 record. The only other Eastern teams over .500 against the West are Toronto (42-39) and Detroit (38-36).

Yesterday's game marked the ninth time in the last 13 games that a rookie pitcher started for the Orioles. Overall, the rookies (Telford, Ben McDonald, Jose Mesa and reliever Schilling) are 9-8, but have a combined 2.90 earned run average.

Leo Gomez, who hit three home runs in the five-game playoff series against Columbus to reach 30 for the season, has been named the Orioles' minor league Player of the Month for August. The third baseman, who is due a promotion after the Red Wings complete postseason play, hit .321, with 16 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and drove in 23 runs during the month.

The Orioles played their 80th errorless game yesterday, just 13 shy of the club record set last year.

When Bill Ripken was thrown out trying to score on Coachman's error in the second inning yesterday he was the fourth Oriole to be thrown out at home plate in a stretch of nine innings.

The Orioles finished with a 7-5 advantage over the Angels in the season series. Both teams now have the same number of losses as they had at the end of last year -- 71 for the Angels, 75 for the Orioles.

In case you're wondering: The Orioles' magic number for official elimination is 10.

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