Oriole Park at Camden Yards broke out of its coma last night.
Broke out of it with the crack of Leo Gomez's bat in the seventh inning of the Orioles' 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Gomez hammered a just-fair home run off Toronto reliever Mike Timlin, his 15th, with one on to bring the Orioles from one run
down to one run up. Crank up the volume. The spark returned to the park that hadn't said boo since the recent setting of the strike date of Aug. 12.
Of course, the Orioles hadn't given the home crowd much to clamor about until last night, when a four-game losing streak died in the din of a happy place.
On this night everyone contributed to what was only the Orioles' third victory in 11 games.
Mark Eichhorn (6-4) earned a shaky victory, Lee Smith his 32nd save pitching on seven days' rest, Mark Williamson some respect as a starting pitcher, and designated hitter Harold Baines a spot in Oriole Park history.
Not to be forgotten, Alan Mills pitched a scoreless eighth before turning the game over to Smith.
Williamson pitched into the sixth inning on the same night Baines hit a long, long home run and right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds stole a home run from Ed Sprague with a leaping catch at the wall in right field.
There was no robbing Baines of his 16th home run and fourth in three nights.
His fourth-inning home run was the longest ever hit at Camden Yards by an Oriole. It traveled 442 feet to dead center, or 21 feet longer than an earlier Dwight Smith foul ball that bounced off Eutaw Street.
Baines' blast gave the Orioles their first lead in five games.
Gomez's towering shot wasn't nearly as long as either man's tape-measure poke, but ranked second to none in impact.
Gomez, getting the start over Chris Sabo at third base last night, had played his way back into a part-time role by hitting .155 in his past 26 games going into last night's.
How will manager Johnny Oates get both men at-bats?
"I have no idea," he said. "I have no idea. We'll find a way. It may not suit one of those guys. It may not suit either of those guys, but we'll just have to come to the ballpark every day and see who is in the lineup."
It was one of those everything-went-right nights for the Orioles, who got a force play on a ball dropped by center fielder Mike Devereaux. While Sprague, the runner, headed back to first, Devereaux bounced a throw to shortstop Cal Ripken, who threw to second baseman Mark McLemore in time for the force.
Both Ripken and McLemore, who combined on the game-clinching double play, had productive nights defensively, combining for five hits and two RBIs.
Dwight Smith produced his second three-hit game since joining the Orioles and McLemore went 3-for-3. Each of the Orioles' starters contributed at least one hit.
Williamson's first 1994 start went well enough for Oates to
consider using him again.
"I think it's a good possibility he will make another start -- or two, or three or four, five, six, seven," Oates said.
Williamson threw a season-high 84 pitches and said he would have liked to pitch longer.
He pitched three scoreless innings before allowing bases-empty home runs to Joe Carter in the fourth and Devon White in the fifth.
Williamson lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowed seven hits and three earned runs, walked one and struck out one.
Toronto starter Todd Stottlemyre was hardly invincible, allowing 12 hits in six innings, a dozen hits the Orioles were able to turn into only four runs.
He turned a 5-4 lead over to the bullpen after six innings.
Three-quarters of the way up the center field bleachers is no place to sit if your goal is to bring home a souvenir emblazoned with Dr. Bobby Brown's signature.
Except for last night.
Baines, a rarity as a hitter in that he can look so lost one night, so in tune the next, put the Orioles on top 2-1 with the two-run home run off Stottlemyre with none out in the fourth. Ripken led off the inning by slicing a triple to the right-field corner.
Leading off the top of the inning, Carter broke a scoreless tie with his 23rd home run on Williamson's first pitch of the inning.
Baines' tape-measure blast did not give the Orioles the lead for long.
White's two-out homer to right tied it in the fifth inning and the pendulum swung back in the Orioles' direction in the bottom of the inning when they opened with three consecutive singles, the third to center by Ripken, who delivered RBI No. 70 with the hit, his eighth hit in three nights.
Ripken, who starts his 1,999th consecutive game today, drove his batting average to .315.
It was the Blue Jays' turn in the top of the sixth, when they scored three runs to take a 5-3 lead.
John Olerud lined a single to right and Sprague followed with the should-have-been home run that Hammonds denied him. That prompted a pitching change, left-hander Tom Bolton coming on to face Rob Butler. Bolton, whose roster status will be put to test when the club needs to make a move tomorrow to make room for Arthur Rhodes, walked the sub-.200 hitter.
VTC Eichhorn came on and allowed a two-run triple to Pat Borders, who scored on Dick Schofield's sacrifice fly to center.
The Orioles got back a run in the bottom of the inning when Dwight Smith and McLemore led off with singles and Smith scored when Jeff Tackett, who had bounced out to leave the bases loaded in the second, grounded into a double play.
After opening with three scoreless innings, the Orioles scored in each of the next four, the crowd growing more animated with each run.
Oates noticed the Orioles breaking from a dead spell the previous night, when they lost to the Blue Jays, 4-3.
"It was just a different feeling," Oates said. "Some life. Some talk. Some body language. It wasn't like we were under water anymore. Before that, I felt like we were under water.
"Maybe the shock of the strike date settled in. Maybe they looked at their checking accounts and found out they could make their mortgage payments for a month anyway. I don't know what it was, but there was definitely a difference."
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Time: 1:35 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Blue Jays' Juan Guzman (10-10, 5.78) vs. Orioles' Ben McDonald (12-6, 4.24).
Tickets: Several hundred scattered singles remain, not including bleacher and 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.