O's play spoiler 1 last time, top Yanks RBI doubles back Brown's 8 1/3 shutout innings in 2-0 victory


It was the Orioles' last meaningful game of the year. But it meant a lot more to the New York Yankees, the last contender the Orioles play this season.

Kevin Brown befuddled them for 8 1/3 innings, Jesse Orosco wriggled out of a bases-loaded ninth-inning jam and the Orioles' 2-0 victory before 46,027 at Camden Yards spoiled the Yankees' chances of moving into a tie for the wild-card lead.

Spoilers for a day.

The Orioles, who finish out their season against also-rans Detroit, Milwaukee and Toronto, figured into the wild-card race yesterday for the last time.

The wild-card leader, the Seattle Mariners, lost to the Chicago White Sox, 2-1, yesterday. The Yankees still trail by a game because they couldn't score off Brown.

Brown has mastered the Yankees over the years; his 12-3 lifetime record is the best winning percentage by an opponent with 10 or more wins.

Yesterday Brown (8-9) continued his winning ways against New York, allowing four hits and two walks and striking out eight in 8 1/3 innings.

The Yankees couldn't score when he left, either. Brown departed with one out in the ninth inning and the bases loaded.

Manager Phil Regan brought in Orosco to face left-handed-hitting Paul O'Neill, who was 0-for-5 against the left-hander. And Orosco came through, picking up his third save with a game-ending double play.

O'Neill worked the count to 3-1. Orosco threw him a low fastball. "It was close," Orosco later said. Strike two. With the count full, Orosco jammed O'Neill with an inside fastball.

The ball fortuitously bounced right to third baseman Bobby Bonilla, who threw to Jeff Huson to start the double play. Fortuitously because Bonilla had been perfectly positioned, on the grass and well off the third base bag.

Bonilla was positioned by the shortstop physically uninvolved with the play.

"I tried to move him in. I don't like to have a third baseman play too deep, especially on this infield, which is so slow," Cal Ripken said. "But don't let Bobby Bo give me too much credit."

Bonilla said Ripken has been working with him on positioning. This time it paid off, bringing a rare bit of good fortune and a victory Brown's way.

Brown has not had much of either commodity this season, bemoaning the dislocated finger that kept him on the disabled list from June 22 to July 17 and the bloop hits that have marred several outings when he's healthy.

After winning a June 2 start, Brown did not win another game until Aug. 26.

"It's been a long, tough year," said Brown, signed as a free agent after six seasons with the Texas Rangers. "The way things have gone it could have very easily turned into a disastrous year."

The Orioles left 11 runners on base yesterday and scored both of their runs in the first inning on a walk by Brady Anderson and doubles by Rafael Palmeiro (who doubled again in the fifth) and Bonilla.

That was all Brown needed. He was too sharp to flirt with disaster, holding the Yankees hitless through four innings. Ruben Sierra led off the fifth with a double that landed three feet inside the left-field line.

"He almost had no-hit stuff," Regan said. "The ball was really moving and sinking. He was really focused in this ballgame."

Not even losing the no-hitter, on a ball that left fielder Anderson appeared to lose track of in the clouds, bothered Brown.

He faced the minimum number of hitters until Don Mattingly singled sharply to right field with two outs in the eighth.

Brown got a double-play ball to end the first. Sierra was doubled off second in the fifth on a line drive to Ripken. Huson ended the seventh with a nice sliding play on O'Neill's grounder.

Luck seemed to be on Brown's side, for a change.

"Hopefully, somewhere down the line it all evens out in the long run," Brown said. "Maybe one year, I'll have 30 wins, I don't know."

The Orioles were looking for a second ace when they signed Brown to a one-year, $4.225 million deal during the off-season.

Yesterday was a clear sign that Brown has the talent to reach that level. The questions have always been about attitude and focus -- Brown's predilection to dwell on his bad luck.

"He does have a little tendency to get down," Regan said. "I tell him he shouldn't because he has such great stuff.

"You talk to people around the league and they say how hard it is to hit off him. He has a hard sinker and he keeps the ball down."

Brown's future with the Orioles will be determined in an off-season organizational meeting, Regan said.

Brown said he wants to stay. But that decision will be made by owner Peter Angelos, Regan and possibly general manager Roland Hemond.

"They have to want me back," Brown said. "I'll understand either way."

Orioles Tonight

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jimmy Haynes (0-1, 1.29) vs. Tigers' Felipe Lira (9-10, 4.30)

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