Cal Ripken led the Orioles out of a seven-game losing streak the only way he knows how.
Ripken isn't the rah-rah type -- he didn't make a stirring speech before the game and he didn't hold a kangaroo court like Frank Robinson used to do when he played here.
He leads by his actions on the field. His second four-hit game of the year helped the Orioles defeat the New York Yankees last night, 5-4, before 46,817, the first sellout crowd at Oriole Park since Opening Day.
"What's your definition of leadership?" Ripken asked rhetorically after breaking out of a 2-for-24 slump. "I'm a player on the team, and I try to do my job the best I can. I try to help every player on the team the best I can. I show up every day, and I like to win. I play to win. Beyond that, I don't know."
The victory moved the Orioles (20-28) into a fourth-place tie with the Yankees and gave manager Phil Regan some peace of mind.
"I feel better than I have in a week," Regan said. "We had some great enthusiasm out there tonight, and we got a great night from Cal."
Orioles starter Scott Klingenbeck, who pitched a strong six innings, said he felt more comfortable with Ripken behind him.
"Cal always plays well," Klingenbeck said. "It's great to have that kind of defense behind me."
In his fourth major-league start, Klingenbeck (2-1) gave the Orioles something that Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown had not during the skid -- a solid outing.
And he may have earned himself a reprieve from going to Rochester. Regan said he may give Klingenbeck, who yielded three runs, five hits and three walks, another start, putting Jamie Moyer or Alan Mills in jeopardy when Arthur Rhodes is called up to start tonight's game.
If he gets another start, Klingenbeck has Ripken to thank.
The nonstop shortstop doubled twice, singled, tripled and drove in two runs -- nearly hitting for the cycle for the second time in his career.
In the seventh inning, Ripken's second double came one bounce away from going over the fence.
"It added some excitement," Ripken said. "I wasn't aware of it, but the guys on the bench were saying, 'You gotta go for it.' I just tried to concentrate on getting a good pitch to hit."
Ripken just didn't get quite enough of it. The last time he hit for the cycle, on May 6, 1984, he homered in his final at-bat off Dave Tobik.
But he couldn't homer off Melido Perez (4-4), whom he'd batted .200 against lifetime with one home run in 34 at-bats.
"Melido Perez is one of the toughest guys for me to hit," Ripken said. "He knows it. I know it. He's got such a great forkball and such a great fastball."
But last night Ripken was 4-for-4.
He wasn't the only one who came through.
Jesse Orosco -- after giving up a bases-empty homer to Randy Velarde to cut the lead to 5-4 -- struck out four straight hitters. Recent Rochester alumni Terry Clark and Mark Lee pitched in.
Even underworked closer Doug Jones picked up his eighth save.
Danny Tartabull led off the ninth inning with a single, but Tony Fernandez struck out and Velarde's double-play ball ended the game.
The good defense came all night long.
It helped Klingenbeck, who took a cushy 5-1 lead into the sixth inning, get out of it.
Paul O'Neill singled to right and Mike Stanley blasted a home run to center to cut the Orioles lead to 5-3.
With no outs, Don Mattingly, the next Yankees hitter, blistered a sinking liner to left-center. Curtis Goodwin made a shoestring catch and avoided colliding with Brady Anderson. Then Klingenbeck made a stab of Tartabull's grounder, and he struck out Fernandez looking to end the inning.
Early on, Klingenbeck got all the offensive support he needed.
The Orioles sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning.
Anderson started it off with a double off the out-of-town scoreboard. Jeffrey Hammonds singled to right, and Rafael Palmeiro singled to left-center for one run.
Then Ripken singled up the middle to drive in another.
Perez walked Harold Baines to load the bases and Jeff Manto singled up the middle to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
"I don't know what happened," said Perez, who had a season-high nine strikeouts in his first complete game of the season. "I had a lot of trouble getting loose and locating my pitches."
The Orioles got another run in the third, thanks to Ripken's aggressive base running. Ripken drove a ball deep to left field. When a staggering Luis Polonia failed to catch it before it hit the wall, Ripken chugged around to third, just beating Polonia's throw. He scored on a wild pitch.
With the Orioles leading 4-1, Hammonds' speed manufactured a run in the fifth. He legged out an infield hit and then scored on Ripken's slicing double to right.
It was Ripken's second RBI, and the double got him one homer short of the cycle.
He didn't get it, but he didn't go home disappointed, either.
Ripken was pleased with his performance, with the victory, with ending the slump and the losing streak. But the self-proclaimed "big-picture guy" does not put much stock in any one victory.
He leads by example every night.
"I had a good night tonight, but I have to go out there tomorrow night and start all over again," he said.
Opponent: New York Yankees
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Yankees' Sterling Hitchcock (2-4, 5.03) vs. Orioles' Arthur Rhodes (1-2, 8.10)
Tickets: 5,000 remain