In the opener, the Orioles used 15 hits and four home runs to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 10-4.
In the night game, Dennis Martinez two-hit the Orioles for eight innings, enabling the Indians to win, 9-2, to gain a split.
Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines homered twice in the first game and once in the second, and Albert Belle homered in each game as the Orioles remained two games behind the Indians in the American League wild-card race.
In splitting the first half of the four-game series against the Indians, the Orioles also moved to within five games of the New York Yankees in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Indians inched to within one game of the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
So many races to track in this the first year of realignment.
This also was to be the first year of Martinez's second stay with the Orioles, but they opted to guarantee Sid Fernandez $9 million over three years rather than Dennis Martinez $9 over two.
"I had a great feeling about coming back here," said Martinez, who has allowed five hits in 18 innings at Camden Yards this season. "I wanted to come back here, but as soon as they got Sid Fernandez, I knew that was it. The Orioles were the first team I played for and I wanted them to be the last, but it didn't work out."
Martinez no-hit the Orioles until Brady Anderson's sharp single to center scored Mark McLemore from second with one out in the sixth. Baines led off the seventh with his 15th home run.
Those were the only hits the Orioles would get off Martinez, who walked two, struck out seven and allowed two runs. Obviously, rain that delayed the start of the second game by 41 minutes didn't throw Martinez off schedule.
In the opener, Baines led the Orioles' 15-hit barrage, hitting two of the club's four home runs in support of Ben McDonald, who pitched eight innings for the victory.
McDonald's strong, long effort was needed because the bullpen was used early in the second game.
Mike Oquist would stand a much better chance of staying in the Orioles' rotation if only he could find a way to keep the bases from getting clogged all the time.
Oquist was knocked out with two outs in the third, by which time he had allowed five earned runs, six hits and two walks. Belle made it halfway to the cycle against him, doubling to drive in one of the Indians' four first-inning runs and homering in the third. Manny Ramirez cleared the bases with a double in the first inning.
Belle, who also homered in the first game, hit his second home run of the night and 32nd of the season in the third inning against Oquist. It traveled well into the left-field bleachers, not far from a banner reading, "Uncork one here Albert."
Belle improved his RBI total to 93. He has six home runs in the Indians' past eight games and is on a tear heading into his scheduled corked-bat hearing Friday in New York.
Oquist said his home-run pitch to Belle was, "right down the middle of the plate and he doesn't miss any mistakes."
For some reason, Oquist makes more mistakes as a starting pitcher than as a reliever.
As a starter, Oquist is 0-3 with an 8.62 earned run average, compared to 2-1, 0.96 as a reliever.
"I want to go out there and do well because we're so close," Oquist said. "That other stuff, I try not to think about."
By "that other stuff," Oquist meant his position in the rotation.
Orioles manager Johnny Oates issued his standard, "as far as I know," response when asked if Oquist remains in the rotation.
The depth of the Orioles' starting rotation behind McDonald and today's starter, Mike Mussina, remains a paramount concern for the Orioles.
McDonald and Mussina have combined for 26 victories, most of any tandem in baseball.
While McDonald gave the bullpen rest in the opener, the hitters gave him support.
Baines (3-for-4, three runs, three RBIs) led the home-run derby with two, but was anything but alone.
Rafael Palmeiro (3-for-5, two runs, two RBIs) homered for the seventh time in 10 games since the All-Star break, and Leo Gomez (3-for-4, one run, two RBIs) awakened with a long ball of his own.
The Orioles would have hit five home runs if not for Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton scaling the outfield fence, his waist nearly fence-high, and sticking his glove over the fence to deny Cal Ripken of what he had earned.
The Orioles had plenty of power left over to compensate for Eddie Murray and Belle homering off McDonald (12-6).
The Orioles had the fortune of facing a pitcher just up from Triple-A and an Indians defense that committed as many errors (three) in one game as it had in the previous 16 combined.
The Orioles tagged right-hander Albie Lopez for 10 hits and six runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Lopez served up both of Baines' home-run pitches as well as Palmeiro's.
Gomez hit his off Jose Mesa with one on in the four-run seventh, an inning that gave the Orioles a 10-2 lead, which even by recent Orioles standards qualifies as safe.
A two-run double by Lofton off McDonald in the eighth cut the Orioles' lead to six runs, but this six-run lead didn't go the way of the last six-run lead.
Jim Poole pitched a scoreless ninth.
McDonald had pitched four scoreless innings at the start of the game.
Murray's 15th home run and No. 456 of his Cooperstown-bound career, to center on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the fifth, ended a string of 10 consecutive outs for McDonald and trimmed Cleveland's lead to 5-1. It wasn't until the next game that Murray picked up career stolen base No. 100.
The next pitch after Baines' second home run sailed over the head of Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, who threw a menacing stare but no fists in Lopez's direction.
Lopez was making his first major-league appearance of the season after going 12-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Charlotte.
"All you really need is to see a pitcher once," said Baines, who watched films of Lopez before the game. "All you want to know is if his ball moves or not."
Belle dumped his 31st home run just over the scoreboard in right field, a shot McDonald called a "Camden Yards home run."
Gomez, battling a 10-for-73 slump heading into the doubleheader, didn't crush his home run, either, but it still counted as his 14th of the season.
Gomez's production through May and June made no one happier than club owner Peter Angelos, who convinced the front office to hold onto the streak-hitting third baseman at the end of spring training. During Gomez's hot streak, Angelos took to calling Gomez his nephew. Gomez liked that.
It was Gomez who had the most creative idea to pass the time during the intermission.
"I'm going to ask my Uncle Angelos to buy a Ping-Pong table so we can play between games," Gomez said.
Instead, the Orioles ate dinner. Then a popular ex-Oriole handed them their lunch. Again.
IF IT ENDED TODAY . . .
The teams that would make the American League playoffs if the season ended today (GA/GB column indicates games ahead or behind in the team's division):
Team (Div.) .... W ... L ... Pct. ... GA
New York (E) .. 60 ... 37 .. .619 .... 5
Chicago (C) ... 59 ... 40 .. .596 .... 1
Texas (W) ..... 48 ... 52 .. .480 .... 2 1/2
Team (Div.) .... W ... L ... Pct. ... GB
Cleveland (C)... 57... 40... .588 .... 1
Other teams in contention for the wild-card spot (GB column indicates games behind Indians):
Orioles (E) ..... 55 .. 42 .. .567 .. 2
Kansas City (C).. 53 .. 47 .. .530 .. 5 1/2