Orioles' 1-2 punch KO's Royals


Ben McDonald supplied the power pitching. Rafael Palmeiro (again) and Harold Baines took care of the power hitting. Jeffrey Hammonds lent insurance with power running last night at Camden Yards.

Lee Smith provided the relief, picking up his second save two games into his Orioles career with a powerful 1-2-3 ninth.

It all added up to a 4-2 Orioles victory over the Kansas City Royals in front of 44,778 who watched the home team improve to 2-0 in anything-but-dull fashion.

McDonald, a scratch in his final spring training start because of mild elbow tenderness, put to rest concerns about that condition and pitched into the seventh inning to earn the victory.

Palmeiro and Baines hit back-to-back home runs off Kansas City losing pitcher David Cone in the sixth, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

Hammonds' legs were responsible for the Orioles' fourth run. Royals reliever Stan Belinda hit Hammonds with a pitch and was replaced by Mike Magnante.

Brady Anderson greeted Magnante with a single to shallow center. Hammonds did not stop at second, slid in ahead of the throw to third, and scored when Mike Devereaux grounded into a forceout at second.

McDonald lasted one out into the seventh inning, leaving with the Orioles leading 3-2 after the homers by Palmeiro and Baines in the sixth.

McDonald's 98th and final pitch was lined by Jose Lind for a single to center.

After McDonald exited with one on and one out in the seventh, bringing on Brad Pennington, the quick thinking of Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles and Vince Coleman's overly aggressive base running combined to get Pennington out of the seventh.

Coleman, the first batter Pennington faced, bounced into a force play and stole second.

Hoiles, charged with a passed ball, dropped Pennington's third strike to Brian McRae. By the time Hoiles retrieved the ball, it was too late to get McRae at first, but not too late to nail Coleman straying too far off third base.

Coleman was caught in a rundown he couldn't escape. It went Hoiles to third baseman Chris Sabo to shortstop Cal Ripken, who placed the tag on Coleman.

McDonald allowed eight hits, struck out three, and walked one before handing the ball to Pennington.

Cone took a 2-1 lead into the sixth and took a headache out of it.

Leading off the inning, Palmeiro sent Cone's 1-1 delivery deep into the right-field bleachers for his second home run in as many games with the Orioles.

As it did two days earlier on Opening Day, the crowd forced the understated Palmeiro out of the dugout to acknowledge the applause. He waved his helmet, went back into the dugout and watched Baines re-ignite the crowd.

Baines sent Cone's 1-0 pitch to the left-field corner for the Orioles' first back-to-back home runs since last July 16 (Devereaux and Baines off Minnesota's Jim Deshaies).

Even the shy Baines took a curtain call, though not without the help of Palmeiro. He gave Baines a hardy shove in the back and Baines responded by smiling and tipping his helmet to the crowd after his first home run of the season.

McDonald had given up his first runs of the season in the third on Wally Joyner's two-run homer to dead center. McRae reached on a two-out single and McDonald got ahead of Joyner, 0-2, before Joyner worked the count to 2-2, fouled off two pitches, then drilled his first home run.

It gave the Royals a 2-0 lead that held up until the fifth, when Anderson singled sharply to center with two outs, scoring Mark McLemore from second.

Leading off the inning, Sabo reached on an infield hit and was forced at second on McLemore's bouncer to short. After Hammonds popped to short, McLemore advanced to second on Cone's wild pitch.

Anderson then delivered his second RBI in as many games to draw the Orioles within 2-1.

The Orioles twice fell just short in their best chances to get to Cone earlier.

Leading off the second, Baines reached on a single to center. Then Baines watched Ripken and Hoiles hit 750 feet worth of fly balls, only to trot back to the dugout leaving Baines at first.

Ripken's high blast to left barely stayed in the park, backing Coleman to the wall. As a fan in the left-field seats reached his cap over the fence, apparently brushing Coleman's arm, the ball popped out of the left fielder's glove and fell to the turf.

Third-base umpire Jim Evans quickly ruled fan interference and Coleman was credited with a putout.

Hoiles, who sent pitch after pitch flying over the fences in batting practice, took that power to the plate after Ripken flied out. Hoiles sent McRae to the warning track in center for another false alarm.

Cone encountered more trouble, this time of his own doing, in the fourth inning. Palmeiro and Baines, the first two batters he faced in the fourth, reached on walks.

Cone escaped when Ripken bounced into a second-to-short-to-first double play and Hoiles flied to the warning track in center.

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