Ripken's 5 RBI drive nail in Tigers' coffin, 9-7 Magic number is 2 after chilly defeat


DETROIT -- The Baltimore Orioles dealt a severe blow to the pennant hopes of one team Thursday and last night they put another on the canvas.

After rallying for a dramatic victory over Boston in the second game of a doubleheader, the Orioles rode a five-RBI outburst by Cal Ripken to a 9-7 conquest of Detroit and left the Tigers' elimination from the American League East pennant race almost a foregone conclusion.

Whatever faint chance the Tigers nurtured disappeared when Ripken knocked home two unearned runs in the eighth inning and pushed the Orioles into a three-run lead.

The hit, driven between the first base bag and Cecil Fielder, was the first allowed by reliever Kevin Ritz, whose 2 2/3 shutout innings permitted the Tigers to recover from a five-run deficit.

It scored Juan Bell, who had forced Chris Hoiles trying to bunt, and Joe Orsulak, who had walked, settling a marathon in which 26 position players and 10 pitchers were used.

Coupled with first-place Toronto's victory over Minnesota, the Tigers' magic number for elimination was reduced to two on a chilly night at Tiger Stadium.

The Orioles committed two errors and fell one short of the American League record for consecutive errorless games, set at 14 by the California Angels earlier this season.

But their offense, which included home runs by Sam Horn (his sixth in 15 games) and Glenn Davis, more than compensated in a game in which they trailed only once (2-1).

It was the first time the Orioles had ever beaten Walt Terrell (3-1) in Detroit, but starter Arthur Rhodes couldn't finish the required five innings and again was denied his first big-league win.

The Orioles gave Rhodes a solid opportunity, knocking out Terrell with a six-run, fifth-inning outburst that matched their season high and pushed them ahead, 7-2.

But Rhodes struggled again, allowing 11 baserunners before he had retired a man in the bottom half of the fifth, and he couldn't finish that inning.

He averted trouble in the first by striking out Travis Fryman with two runners aboard after Tony Phillips' grounder had struck Milt Cuyler in the basepath for an interference call that gave him his first out of the game.

The Tigers bunched four hits and the 39th and 40th stolen bases by Cuyler to take a 2-1 lead in the third, former Oriole Mickey Tettleton knocking home the second run with a double.

In the fifth, Rhodes started with a single by Phillips and a walk to Alan Trammell before Bell broke the team's errorless streak after 13 games by booting Fielder's routine grounder to second.

The Orioles had not made a miscue since Sept. 11 (Mike Devereaux).

Bell's error loaded the bases with none out and Fryman followed with a two-run single to center to finish Rhodes and bring on

Mark Williamson. The second runner, Trammell, was safe at the plate on a very close play after Brady Anderson made a strong throw home.

Williamson pitched out of the inning with the lead intact, although Detroit's fifth run crossed on pinch hitter Lou Whitaker's ground out. The Orioles could not convert the inning-ending double play with Whitaker running.

Baltimore jumped to a 1-0 lead on Ripken's sacrifice fly in the first following a double by Anderson and single by Orsulak.

Terrell settled down for the next three innings, pitching out of jams with men on third twice, but he couldn't even get an out in the fifth.

Bell's first hit in 24 at-bats started the flurry and Anderson reached on an infield hit when Trammell could not make a play after doubling back to field Anderson's grounder following a break to second base.

Trammell threw late to first and when Fielder threw wildly to third, Bell scored and Anderson raced to second.

Orsulak walked and Ripken followed with a booming triple that bounced against the flagpole in centerfield, scoring two runs and raising his RBI total to 106.

Horn then homered off the upper-deck facing in right field to saddle Terrell with his shortest outing since Aug. 14.

Two pitches later, Davis homered over the 400-foot sign in left-center to greet David Haas to the game.

The Orioles went on to put two more runners on and hit two hard line drives, but did not add to the lead.

Orioles today

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Orioles starter: Mike Mussina (4-5, 3.31)

Tigers starter: Bill Gullickson (19-9, 3.94)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

TV: None

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