BOSTON -- After eight straight failures, the Orioles once again have seen the light of victory in the daytime.
Not since they beat Milwaukee at home July 1 had the Oriolewon an afternoon game before home runs by Mike Devereaux and Leo Gomez triggered a 9-3 win over the Boston Red Sox here yesterday. And despite the score, it was hardly easy.
don't know if there is such a thing as a comfortable lead in this park, even with the wind blowing in," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "I don't think you're ever comfortable here until the final out."
Not that Oates had much time to enjoy a lead of any kind, or check the prevailing breezes (they were blowing across the field, from left to right). It wasn't until the seventh inning that Devereaux broke a 3-3 tie by hammering an offering from Boston starter Frank Viola high over Fenway Park's famous left-field wall.
The blast went against the wind, and not only cleared the Green Monster, but also the screen atop it that sits 60 feet above the playing field. The ball came to rest on the roof of a parking garage across the street.
The monumental blow saddled Viola (9-7) with the loss, and gavDevereaux the Orioles' team lead in home runs (16). It also made a winner out of Pat Clements (2-0), who blanked the Red Sox for 2 1/3 innings in his eighth appearance (seven scoreless) since joining the Orioles July 10.
An inning after Devereaux connected, Gomez put the gamaway with a three-run shot into the left-field screen off Greg Harris. For Gomez, who has traded in his average bat for his power bat, it was the sixth home run in the last 18 games.
The power surge coincides with a tip from batting coach Greg Biagini that caused Gomez to move his hands farther away from his body. "I feel more comfortable," said Gomez. "Before, with my hands in close, the inside pitch was tough for me.
"The double I hit [which set up two runs in the fourth inningprobably would have been a foul ball if I had my hands closer," he said. Since making the adjustment, Gomez is hitting only .250 (16-for-64), but has driven in 21 runs.
The third baseman's overall average has dropped 15 points (.29to .280) while his RBI total has jumped from 28 to 49. Suffice it to say the Orioles are happier with the increased production.
The Red Sox actually outhit the Orioles, 12-10, but managed onlone extra-base hit, a third-inning double by Billy Hatcher on which right fielder Joe Orsulak missed an attempted diving catch.
That was one of seven hits allowed in the first four innings bAlan Mills, the Orioles' second emergency starter in two games. He had worked exclusively in relief before being pressed into service as a substitute for Storm Davis, whose spot in the rotation proved to be only temporary.
As he has done all along, Oates refused to speculate on thpossibility of Mills taking over the fifth spot in the rotation. "We don't have to worry about that for nine more days," said Oates. "We'll wait and see."
Taking Mills out of the bullpen seems to be a likely possibilitybut the right-hander says it doesn't matter to him. "I just like the idea of pitching in the big leagues," he said. "I have no preference.
"If they just want me to pinch run, I'll be happy to do that. I'm jushappy to be here," said Mills, who said he didn't make any changes in his style yesterday.
"When you go in [as a starter, rather than a reliever] the score i0-0, that's the only difference," said Mills. "Getting ready is the only difference. You have plenty of time, so you can do it a lot
Oates didn't expect anything different from Mills, so he wasn'surprised. "I'll take it," he said of the five innings Mills worked (he left with a 3-2 lead). "We said no more than 80 pitches, and he threw 76, so there was no sense sending him back out there. I thought he threw the ball well -- a lot of quality fastballs."
Davis, who saved Friday night's rain-shortened 4-3 win, replaceMills in the sixth, but three straight one-out singles tied the score. After he got John Valentin to pop out with runners on first and third, Clements came in to face Wade Boggs, who grounded out to end the inning.
Devereaux, who had a big day with a run-scoring single and sacrifice fly in addition to his home run, took Viola over the screen with two outs in the seventh to give the Orioles the lead. Clements breezed through two more innings, with the Gomez home run highlighting a four-run eighth that jumped the lead to six runs.
Gregg Olson, who had pitched only once in the previous nindays, got an easy workout in the ninth inning to wrap it up.
With their daytime losing streak behind them, the Orioles havanother one to contend with this afternoon, when Ben McDonald (10-7) faces John Dopson (6-4). They have won the final game of a road trip only once in eight tries this year --in Minnesota on April 29.
Yesterday's win was the fourth in six games for the Oriolesassuring them of a winning record on this trip. But they were unable to gain ground on the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Yankees, 3-1, to maintain their 4 1/2 game lead in the Eastern Division.