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Mussina stays level as HRs fly


Mike Mussina is becoming a rather reluctant homer connoisseur. He gave up two homers in his 9-5 victory over Oakland yesterday. He's given up home runs in seven straight games, a total of 11 homers.

After his start in California on Monday, Mussina said he had no idea why he can't keep the ball in the park, why he's giving up so many long balls. But he's learning.

"I've actually kind of figured out I'm going to give up some homers," he said. "I'm just going to have to learn to live with it."

Or at least live despite the homers. The first homer Mussina allowed yesterday was a bases-empty homer, by Scott Brosius in the third inning, the second a two-run shot by Terry Steinbach in the seventh inning, after the Orioles had built an 8-1 lead. It's how Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven won for years, pitching around the homers.

"He challenges hitters," said manager Phil Regan, "and comes right after them."

Mussina, who lasted 6 1/3 innings, walked two and struck out three, made slight adjustments in his mechanics before and during the game, altering his delivery to aid his control.

"I felt better," Mussina said. "I felt more comfortable standing on the mound and throwing the baseball. I've been working on some stuff, and I'm finally getting to the point where I'm able to throw it in the ballgame."

Castoff near promotion?

Boston is winning with a collection of misfits and castoffs, and the Orioles could be promoting one of their own in the near future.

Terry Clark, 34, a veteran of 17 professional seasons, is pitching well for Triple-A Rochester -- four hits and two walks allowed in nine innings -- and if the O's determine they need a right-handed reliever, Clark could be the guy. With Armando Benitez having walked nine in his last 3.2 innings and Alan Mills going through a dead-arm stage in the last week, they might call up a right-hander soon.

Clark was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979, and bounced from organization to organization, from the Cards to the Angels to the Astros to the Indians to the Padres to the Braves. He had 20 major-league appearances before this year, which he started with the Braves. When Atlanta tried to send him to the minors in early May, Clark refused the assignment and became a free agent. Clark, a sinker-slider pitcher, signed with the Orioles on May 16 on the recommendation of Regan, who managed him in winter ball.

Drafting young

The Orioles concluded their participation in the amateur draft after the 49th round yesterday. How did they do?

"I'll tell you in three years," said scouting director Gary Nickels, who described this year's draft as a "high school draft," rich with prep talent after the first rounds. Six of the Orioles' first 10 picks were high school players.

A breakdown of the Orioles' draft: 17 right-handed pitchers, five left-handed pitchers, four catchers, 12 infielders and 11 outfielders.

The Orioles will meet with No. 1 pick Alvie Shepherd later this week, although they might not make their first offer to the University of Nebraska pitcher until a later date. They have agreed to terms with No. 8 pick Scott Eibey, a left-handed pitcher from Northern Iowa.

The No. 21 selection, Daniel Reed, a pitcher from Stanford, called the Orioles before the draft and asked them to take him.

The Orioles drafted two area players: Mike Wooden, a right-handed pitcher from North County High, with the 44th pick, and Cory Coil, a right-handed pitcher from Francis Scott Key, with the 47th pick.

Around the horn

The game was delayed 64 minutes by rain in the seventh inning. . . . Catcher Chris Hoiles had an in-grown toenail removed before the game, but played. . . . Cesar Devarez made his major-league debut, pinch hitting for Hoiles in the seventh and grounding out. He caught the last two innings. . . . Jeff Manto's error in the ninth inning was his first of the year. . . . A wild pitch by Benitez was the Orioles' fourth of the year. The Orioles have just two passed balls, and the combined total of six wild pitches and passed balls is by far the best in baseball. . . . Joseph Sliwa, who greets fans at the main entrance of the Camden Club and has been with the Orioles for the last 18 years, is recovering from pneumonia at Church Home Hospital.

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