MINNEAPOLIS -- Johnny Oates has been trying to steer clear of the more predictable sports cliches lately. He still takes them one game at a time and never looks too far ahead and figures that good pitching usually beats good hitting, but he has made an effort to be a little more quotable.
"I think this is one of those days when you have to use the old cliche 'team effort,' " Oates said. "Just about everyone had some part in it -- the offense, the bench, the bullpen, the starting pitching and the defense."
True enough, there was plenty of credit to go around after the Orioles won their second game in a row to stay right in the half-game-apart logjam in the American League East. Here's a quick synopsis:
* Left-hander Jamie Moyer gave up one run over 6 1/3 innings to earn his seventh victory in his past eight decisions as the back end of the Orioles' makeshift starting rotation continued to string together impressive performances.
* Left fielder Brady Anderson hit two long home runs -- one of them into the upper deck in right field -- to continue his one-man assault on the beleaguered Twins pitching staff.
* Designated hitter Harold Baines had three hits, including the 2,000th of his major-league career, as he continued to swing one of the hottest bats on the team.
* Rookies Jeffrey Hammonds and Damon Buford entered the game in the eighth inning and combined to go 3-for-3 with four RBI. Hammonds' two-run pinch single in the eighth broke open a tight game. Buford came on as a pinch runner and delivered an RBI double in the ninth.
* Relief pitcher Jim Poole gave up one hit over the final 1 2/3 innings to record his first Orioles save.
Moyer (7-4) looked like he might be able to do it by himself. He carried a three-hit shutout into the sixth inning before the Twins broke through on a two-out RBI double by Dave Winfield. Moyer got into trouble again in the seventh and turned the game over to the bullpen. Todd Frohwirth and Poole held things together the rest of the way.
The saga of the Orioles' two non-roster left-handers just keeps getting better. Moyer and Fernando Valenzuela are a combined 12-3 with a 2.38 ERA during the 33-14 run that has brought the Orioles back from the low point (21-30 on June 1) of their season.
"I think today I had a better changeup than I've had the last couple of outings," said Moyer, who gave up seven hits and did not walk a batter. "It's funny. People say, 'What's your best pitch?' I don't have one. One day it's one thing and another day it's something else."
It wasn't all smiles out on the mound, however. Frohwirth got into an animated argument with pitching coach Dick Bosman at the mound in the seventh inning -- after Frohwirth came into the game and walked the first batter on four pitches. But the heightened tension appeared to have the desired effect, because Frohwirth got the next two batters to work out of a game-endangering situation.
The rest was fun and games. The Orioles took the lead with two runs in the first inning and Anderson padded it with a fifth-inning home run that bounced in and out of the upper deck. The shot was measured at 435 feet, which isn't bad for a guy who came into the series with a badly swollen right thumb.
He didn't realize how far he had hit the ball until trainer Jamie Reed told him after he returned to the dugout.
"I was in kind of a daze," Anderson said. "I didn't realize how far I hit it. I was sprinting. I trotted on the second one."
The second one didn't go quite as far, but it was a towering shot that dropped behind the tarpaulin drape that serves as the right-field fence. The two home runs gave him 10 for the season and increased his RBI total to 36.
Oates expressed concern about the nagging thumb injury before the opener of the four-game series, but Anderson has made it fairly clear that it isn't a serious problem. He had three hits in the opener and two hits Friday night before yesterday's three-hit performance raised his batting average to .245.
"He let us know it was OK," Oates said.
The score may have been lop-sided, but the game was decided in the last two innings, when the Orioles scored six times to break it open. The pivotal hit was delivered by Hammonds, who came in to pinch hit for second baseman Harold Reynolds with the bases loaded and one out.
The infield was in. The Twins, trailing 3-1 in spite of a solid seven-inning performance by starter Scott Erickson, had the infield up to try and keep the deficit manageable. Hammonds bounced the ball through the middle to give the Orioles bullpen some much-needed breathing room.
Why did Oates pinch hit for Reynolds with a rookie?
"Because I'd rather have Hammonds hitting against the right-hander [Carl Willis] than Reynolds against a left-hander," Oates explained. "Hammonds is hitting .300 against right-handers and Reynolds is hitting .200 against left-handers. Also, Hammonds has the pop to get the ball far enough into the outfield to score the run even if he doesn't get all of it. Reynolds has to really get into it to get the run home with an out."
Frohwirth gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth, but the Orioles batted around to score four times in the ninth and settle the issue.
Anderson led off the ninth with his second home run of the game. Buford, who had entered the game in the eighth to pinch run for Baines, doubled home the second run of the inning and the Orioles added two more on back-to-back run-scoring singles by David Segui and Hammonds.
AL EAST RACE
Team .. W .. L .. .. Pct. .. GB
Boston .. .. 54 . 43 . .. .557 .. --
New York ... 55 . 44 . .. .556 .. --
Toronto . .. 55 . 44 . .. .556 .. --
Orioles . .. 54 . 44 . .. .551 ... 1/2
Detroit . .. 50 . 48 . .. .510 .. 4 1/2
Yesterday's results Orioles 9, Minnesota 2
Boston 5, Oakland 3
Kansas City 6, Detroit 3
New York 5, California 3
Toronto 5, Texas 1