Langston pulls plug on O's, 1-0


A football score one night, a soccer score the next.

Only in baseball.

One night after the Orioles and California Angels staged a home run derby that typified 1994 baseball, Mark Langston and Ben McDonald turned back the clock to 1968, the year of the pitcher.

Langston and McDonald locked arms in a duel won by the left-hander as the Angels defeated the Orioles, 1-0, in front of 47,154 last night at Camden Yards.

The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes by a brief rain shower. Langston and McDonald saw to it that neither team's offense showed up until much later.

One night after the teams combined for 11 home runs in a 14-7 Orioles victory, the game's only run scored on a broken-bat hit.

Langston (5-4) tossed a three-hit shutout, walked one and struck out five. He retired the final 16 batters he faced and limited the Orioles to two singles by Cal Ripken, in the second and fourth, and one by Rafael Palmeiro, in the first.

Langston's 17th career shutout was his first in 66 starts since he threw back-to-back shutouts in June of 1992.

McDonald (10-6) pitched a four-hitter, walked five and struck out three. He lost his shutout bid and the game on Tim Salmon's two-out, eighth-inning, broken-bat single to center that scored Mark Dallesandro from third base.

"It was a cutter on the outside black," said Salmon, who had homered twice the previous night. "I didn't see it right away. No secret I was very lucky on that. That's OK. I'll take the broken-bat hit any time. It will look like a line drive in the box score. It was a great pitch."

And it was a great pitchers' duel. Not a throwers' duel, a pitchers' duel.

Langston broke into the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners as a 17-game winner in 1984 when he overpowered hitters. He needs more than that to get by now that he has had elbow surgery. Needs it and has it.

Jeff Tackett, who had gone 4-for-7 with two home runs lifetime against Langston going into the night, was impressed.

"He didn't throw any mistakes tonight, didn't get away with any pitches," Tackett said. "He threw a great game tonight. He threw his changeup and his slider any time he wanted and spotted his fastball in and out."

Salmon was equally impressed with McDonald.

"When I first heard about Ben McDonald, I thought he would be like another Roger Clemens, blowing it by people," Salmon said. "Then I faced him and realized he's not like that at all. I didn't see a single straight fastball from him all night. He was throwing cutters away, running fastballs in on you, breaking off a few curveballs. He wasn't just raring back and throwing by any means."

nTC In the two starts leading into last night's, McDonald had given up 15 hits and 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

In his 10 starts before last night's, McDonald had a 7.12 ERA and was averaging 5 1/3 innings per start over that time, not what the Orioles had in mind from their No. 2 starter, who won each of his first seven starts.

This was not the same pitcher who faced the Angels last night.

"Boy, he looked like Cy Young tonight," Salmon said.

McDonald came out of his bullpen workout with pitching coach Dick Bosman in Cleveland last week armed with confidence. He was convinced he had regained the arm strength he lost in the wake of pitching on both sides of a two-hour rain delay in Boston, had identified a mechanical flaw in his delivery and found a means of relaxing on the mound -- three areas McDonald believed to be primary causes of his slump.

"The most important thing for me is the arm strength I lost from that Boston start is back," McDonald said. "Tonight was a huge steppingstone for me, something I can build on for the rest of the year."

Langston battled through a slump himself, going 0-4 with an 8.69 ERA in a four-start stretch from May 17 through June 4 as he struggled to regain form after having bone chips removed from his left elbow April 12.

Last night, both pitchers brought their best to the mound.

"I was able to get that tunnel vision going," McDonald said. "I was able to tune out everything and see only the catcher's mitt. That's something you wish you could do every start. I walked more hitters than I would have liked, but you have to be fine when you know your team isn't going to score a lot of runs."

McDonald got away with his first three walks, two coming in the first inning, but his fourth proved his undoing.

Dallesandro, who entered the game after Greg Myers injured his thumb blocking a ball in the first inning, walked to lead off the eighth.

He took second on Gary DiSarcina's ground ball and third on Spike Owen's grounder. After McDonald walked Damion Easley, Salmon drove home the winning run.

McDonald repeatedly was aided by the strong defense the Orioles played behind him.

Third baseman Leo Gomez charged speedy Chad Curtis' grounder and threw him out in the third and backhanded Easley's grounder to start a force play in the third and quickly handled Salmon's sixth-inning grounder to start a double play in the sixth.

In the fourth, Curtis attempted to stretch a two-out single into a double, but failed when right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds' perfect one-hop throw to shortstop Cal Ripken got him.

McDonald said last night was "close to the best I've thrown all year."

Meanwhile, Langston improved to 15-8 lifetime against the Orioles and to 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts at Oriole Park.

"That's something," McDonald said of Langston's Oriole Park numbers. "This is definitely a hitters' park. That was shown last night. Eleven home runs and 21 runs one night, one run and seven hits the next. It always seems to work that way. That's why baseball's so great."


Opponent: California Angels

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Brian Anderson (5-3, 5.70) vs. Orioles' Arthur Rhodes (1-5, 9.09)

Tickets: Several hundred scattered singles remain, not including bleacher and 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.

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