Milligan's three-run homer pushes slump into background


When your nickname is "Moose" and you're slumping, there's room for a lot of boos to slip in when the crowd yells your name. But Randy Milligan said he knew just what was coming out of the mouths of the fans at Memorial Stadium last night.

How did he know? It was just a feeling after blasting a three-run homer over the left-center-field fence with one out in the second inning. The shot gave the Baltimore Orioles a 3-1 lead en route to a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians, only the Orioles' sixth at home this season.

"It felt good," said Milligan of the home run off Cleveland starter Charles Nagy. "I was happy to give the team a lead and happy to give us a cushion to work with. It's hard to struggle from behind."

The home run was the first by an Oriole with more than one man on base since April 15, when Sam Horn hit a grand slam in Milwaukee. Until last night, Horn was the only Oriole to homer with more than one man on -- the other was April 14, when he hit a three-run shot in Milwaukee.

"You don't hit too many three-run home runs," said winning manager John Oates, whose team entered the game third in the American League in home runs but last in runs scored. "And any time you hit one with a couple of guys on, it's big."

It was big last night. Joe Orsulak led off the Orioles second with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Dwight Evans flied out to left, Horn got an infield single to set up Milligan's heroics.

"Milligan's home run was a fastball that stayed up and over the plate," Cleveland manager John McNamara said. "And he just drilled it."

Milligan had 20 homers for the Orioles last season but, until recently, had been slumping. He had just two home runs (both against the Oakland Athletics' Bob Welch) before last night, and the four games before the Cleveland series he had just one hit in 11 at-bats.

"It's mental -- you're thinking too much and when it happens you get 25 suggestions with what you're doing wrong," Milligan said. "You try all 25, but you're really messing yourself up. Finally you say, 'Just do what you do best.' "

That has been apparent in the past two games, with Milligan getting four hits in his past eight at-bats (he singled in his second at bat last night).

"When you finally do what you're suppose to, you really break out," Milligan said. "Now, hopefully, everything is back to normal."

The atmosphere surrounding the Orioles has been far from normal since Oates replaced Frank Robinson as manager on Thursday.

"The guys wanted to hurry up and get Johnny his first managerial win," Milligan said.

"I'm starting to feel a lot better. Finally, I feel like I have a foundation to work with. [But] I'm not really in a groove yet. When you strike out with a man in scoring position [his last at-bat in the eighth], you're not really in a groove. But I'm definitely feeling better than I did two weeks ago."

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