CLEVELAND -- They had to weather two rain delays and five pitching changes, but the Orioles put the finishing touches on a highly successful road trip with a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians yesterday.
This one wasn't pretty, as the Orioles gave away a run on a double steal in the first inning and failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity with nobody out in the seventh. But, because of their overall success on the trip, the final victory carried extra satisfaction.
"I would say 7-3 is acceptable,"said manager Johnny Oates. "A couple of times we didn't play as well as we had for the last two or three weeks, but we were able to get the job done."
Yesterday, Chris Hoiles broke out of an 0-for-17 streak with three hits, including his ninth home run of the year, and Harold Reynolds delivered the biggest hit of the game, a two-out, two-run double to give the Orioles a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning.
tomorrow night. "We need to keep getting contributions from everybody."
In the latest win, one of the biggest contributors was Jamie Moyer (3-3), whose work was largely overshadowed by the bullpen committee that followed him to the mound. Moyer was forced to warm up three times after the game started -- twice because of the rain delays, the other after Cleveland reliever Matt Young went down with a sprained knee in the fourth inning.
His up-and-down day may have been a factor in Moyer only being able to pitch 5 1/3 innings (five hits), but he proved resilient enough to win -- thanks to the five relievers who combined to shut out the Indians for the last 3 2/3 innings.
"I haven't been here that long, but I've seen nothing but positive things from our bullpen," said Moyer, who gave up two runs in the first but settled down to leave with a 4-3 lead. "I feel confident no matter who comes into the game."
Mark Williamson, Jim Poole, Todd Frohwirth and Brad Pennington each had to extricate the Orioles from threatening situations before Gregg Olson arrived to record his 19th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
In the sixth, it was Williamson who got a pair of ground outs after Albert Belle chased Moyer with a double that drove in a run and cut the Orioles' lead to one run. An inning later Alvaro Espinoza led off with a double, but the O's escaped again with the help of Poole.
Felix Fermin sacrificed Espinoza to third base, but pinch hitter Thomas Howard bunted the next pitch back to Williamson for an easy out and Poole struck out Kenny Lofton on a 3-and-2 pitch.
After the Orioles increased their lead to 5-3 on an RBI single by Leo Gomez, Poole walked Wayne Kirby to start the eighth inning, but got Carlos Baerga on a checked-swing strikeout. Frohwirth gave up a single to Belle, but got Carlos Martinez to foul out.
That signaled Pennington's entrance and the rookie left-hander continued his impressive performance in late-inning pressure by getting Reggie Jefferson to ground out. When the Indians made two errors to give the Orioles another run in the ninth, Olson had plenty of breathing space to close it out.
The rain delays in the second and third innings, plus the injury to Young, didn't seem to affect Moyer. "My idea was just to go as long as I could," he said. "It was hot out there and that probably helped. If we'd had these conditions in cold weather, I don't know if I could have lasted as long."
For Moyer, it was his third straight win after going the better part of three years without a victory while bouncing around the big leagues. "Sometimes it's the luck of the draw," he said. "And sometimes you just have to be lucky. There were times during those three years when I felt I pitched well enough win, but it didn't happen.
"It's just like Fernando [Valenzuela] right now," said Moyer. "He pitched a great game [in Saturday's 3-0 loss], but he has nothing to show for it. I feel for him, because I know what that's like."
In winning two out of three from the Indians, the Orioles won all three series on the trip -- three of four in Boston and two of three in Milwaukee -- and their sixth straight series overall. Even more impressive, they concluded a stretch where they played 20 of 26 games on the road with an 18-8 record (15-4 in the past 19 games).
"Our goal was to get to .500 by the time we got home," said Oates. "Now we're two games over, and we just have to try and go from there.
"The guys made a pact awhile ago to look at each series individually and try to win each one. That's what we've got to continue to do. We can't get ahead of ourselves," said Oates, whose team sits in fourth place, eight games out.
With the first-place Tigers up next, nobody has to worry about the Orioles looking beyond that series.
+ Orioles-Indians scoring Indians first: Lofton struck out. Kirby grounded out to second baseman Reynolds. Baerga doubled to center. Belle intentionally walked. Martinez singled to center, Baerga scored, Belle to third. Martinez caught stealing, catcher Hoiles to second baseman Reynolds, Belle scored. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on.
Indians 2, Orioles 0.
Orioles second: Segui grounded out to first baseman Martinez. Hoiles homered to right on 3-2 count. Carey lined out to center fielder Lofton. Gomez flied out to left fielder Belle. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Indians 2, Orioles 1.
Orioles third: Reynolds grounded out to second baseman Baerga. Anderson Anderson grounded out to pitcher Abbott. McLemore walked. Ripken doubled to center, McLemore scored. Devereaux grounded into fielder's choice to third baseman Espinoza, Ripken out at third. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 2, Indians 2.
Orioles fourth: M. Young pitching. Segui grounded out to third baseman Espinoza. Hoiles walked. Carey struck out. Gomez walked, Hoiles to second. Cook relieved M. Young. Reynolds doubled to left, Hoiles and Gomez scored. Anderson grounded out to second baseman Baerga. 2 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 4, Indians 2.
Indians sixth: Kirby out bunting to pitcher Moyer. Baerga singled to right center. Belle doubled to right center, Baerga scored. Williamson relieved Moyer. Martinez grounded out to shortstop Ripken, Belle to third. Jefferson, pinch hitting for Hill, grounded out to first baseman Segui, pitcher Williamson covering. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Orioles 4, Indians 3.
Orioles eighth: Levis catching, batting 9th. Segui grounded out to first baseman Martinez. Hoiles doubled to left. Carey grounded out to second baseman Baerga, Hoiles to third. Gomez singled to left, Hoiles scored. Reynolds singled to center, Gomez to second. Lilliquist relieved Slocumb. Anderson grounded out to pitcher Lilliquist. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Orioles 5, Indians 3.
Orioles ninth: Plunk pitching. McLemore flied out to center fielder Lofton. Ripken safe on third baseman Espinoza's fielding error. Devereaux grounded into fielder's choice, shortstop Fermin to second baseman Baerga, Ripken safe at second, on shortstop Fermin's fielding error. Segui singled to right, Ripken scored, Devereaux to third. Hoiles struck out. Carey popped out to second baseman Baerga. 1 run, 1 hit, 2 errors, 2 left on. Orioles 6, Indians 3.
AL EAST STANDINGS
:0Team.. .. ..W .. .. L .. .. ..Pct.. .. .. ..GB
Detroit .. 43.. .. 25 .. .. ...632 .. .. .. --
Toronto .. 42 .. ..28 .. .. .. 600 .. .. .. 2
New York ..41 .. ..29 .. .. .. 586 .. .. .. 3
Orioles .. 35 .. ..33 .. .. .. 515 .. .. .. 8
Boston .. .30 .. ..38 .. .. .. 441 .. .. .. 13
Milwaukee .29 .. ..37 .. .. .. 439 .. .. .. 13
Cleveland .27.. .. 41 .. .. .. 397 .. .. .. 16
The top three teams in AL East visit on the nine-game homestand that begins tomorrow. Orioles' record against those teams:
Dates.. .. .. Team .. .. .. .. .W -L
June 22-24.. .* Detroit.. .. .. 1-3
June 25-27 .. ..New York .. .. 3-1
June 28-30 .. ..Toronto .. .. ..2-2
* - Less than 1,000 tickets remain for each game of this series, not including 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.
O'S SERIES SUCCESS
Since being swept by the Angels in a three-game series May 28-30 in California, the Orioles have won six straight series, their longest streak since winning seven in a row in May 1986:
Dates.. .. .. Opponent.. .. .. .. .. W-L
May 31- .. .. at Oakland .. .. .. .. 2-1
June 4-6.. .. Seattle .. .. ... .. ..3-0
June 7-9 .. .. Oakland .. .. .. .. ..3-0
June 10-13 .. .at Boston .. .. .. .. 3-1
June 14-16 .. .at Milwaukee .. .. .. 2-1
June 18-20 .. .at Cleveland .. .. .. 2-1
Totals .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..15-4