Ventura dashes hopes of Orioles Homer in 10th wins for White Sox, 4-3; Anderson hits two

CHICAGO — CHICAGO -- The Orioles hung on the brink of disaster all night, repeatedly rescued by defensive miracles. But they had no defense for Robin Ventura in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Orioles closer Randy Myers threw a fastball over the plate and Ventura launched it over the right-center field fence, the homer giving the White Sox a 4-3 victory. The Orioles fell to four games behind Chicago in the wild-card race.


Cal Ripken singled in the eighth inning, the 2,500th hit of his career. Brady Anderson hit his 36th and 37th homers but had to leave the game after straining a muscle near his right shin in the sixth inning. He may or may not play today.

Orioles manager Davey Johnson went to Myers in the 10th in a semi-state of desperation, having already used Alan Mills and Jesse Orosco. Already deep into his thin corps of experienced relievers, he opted for Myers against the left-handed-hitting Ventura, who was leading off the inning for the White Sox.


Myers fell behind Ventura, throwing a ball with his first pitch, then fired a fastball. "It was a fastball thrown right over the middle of the plate," said Johnson, "and Ventura smoked it."

The score was tied three times, but the White Sox seemed in control of this game since the early innings. The Orioles accumulated six hits and three walks, and their offense consisted of three bases-empty homers. Anderson hit two and Chris Hoiles hit one in the seventh, which gave the Orioles a brief 3-2 lead, their only of the game.

But the White Sox constantly threatened, collecting nine hits and seven walks. Frank Thomas walked four times, with three of those walks intentional, a career high. And Chicago exploited Hoiles' poor throwing ability, stealing four bases. Even Harold Baines, bad knees and all, stole second.

This was the scenario the Orioles have feared all year, an opponent running the bases aggressively in a crucial game.

Somehow, the Orioles managed to keep the score close, behind starter David Wells. "David pitched a good game and he kept us in it," Johnson said. "It was a good pitchers' game, and defensively we played good. But so did they."

The Orioles haven't played many games when each pitch had the potential of significance, each ball or strike swaying the advantage to one team or another.

But Wells pitched well for the Orioles, and though White Sox rookie James Baldwin was erratic, he threw enough strikes to be effective.

Anderson stole second with two outs in the first inning, and after a prolonged battle with Bobby Bonilla, Baldwin appeared to tire a bit, walking Bonilla and then walking B. J. Surhoff on four pitches.


Or Baldwin may have opted to pitch around Surhoff, a left-handed hitter, to get to the right-handed hitting Ripken, who got jammed and grounded weakly to third to end the rally.

Wells' great escape came in the third inning, after Thomas pulled a ground single off the glove of third baseman Surhoff and Lyle Mouton blooped a single over second base.

Wells couldn't get his curveball over against third baseman Ventura, and fell into a hitter's count, three balls and one strike. But Wells made a good pitch that Ventura popped up. Wells then pitched inside to Baines, as well, but Baines managed to muscle a ball over shortstop. It had all the makings of a cheap single, the sort of hit that drives a pitcher crazy.

However, Ripken had gotten a good jump on the ball and, with his back to home plate, he made a running catch, his gloved hand fully extended as he caught Baines' blooper.

Wells inexplicably walked Pat Borders leading off the fourth inning, shouting in disgust after doing so, and Darren Lewis lined a ball toward right field.

Bonilla charged in and made a sliding catch; Borders, not sure whether Lewis' liner had dropped in or not, stopped at second base, and was easily doubled off first. Wells breathed a heavy sigh of relief, his shoulders heaving.


"I tell you what," Wells said, "they played some great defense behind me. It was a blessing in disguise."

There was no disguise on Roberto Alomar's terrific play in the sixth. Wells walked Baines with nobody out to start the inning. After Borders lined to center, Lewis was batting and Baines anticipated a curveball and broke for second.

Creaky knees and all, he easily beat Hoiles' throw, setting up Lewis for a chance at driving in the potential lead run. Sure enough, Lewis ripped a liner toward right-center field, and Baines, trying to get a good jump, took off from second.

Wells' defense saved him again: Alomar took two steps to his right and launched himself, parallel to the ground, and speared the ball two or three feet off the ground. Baines was easily doubled off second. In a season of highlights, it was one of Alomar's greatest plays.

"Believe me, both of those I can appreciate," said Anderson, referring to the catches by Ripken and Alomar, "because I couldn't have gotten to either one."

The Orioles and White Sox each managed a couple of runs in the first six innings. Or, more to the point, Anderson broke through.


One out into the third inning, Baldwin threw a fastball on three balls and two strikes, and Anderson bashed it over the wall in right-center field, his 36th homer of the year. And after crossing home plate, he had harsh words for somebody sitting in the stands, looking up and screaming.

Anderson's bat did the talking in the top of the sixth, when he slugged Baldwin's first pitch of the inning well over the wall in center field, tying the score at 2.

Hoiles' 18th homer gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead, but, in the bottom of the seventh, Mouton muscled a broken-bat single over second, driving home Ray Durham with the tying run.

"My fault," Wells said. "I got the pitch too far over the plate. Right pitch, wrong spot."

Ventura broke the tie three innings later.

The way the game was played -- the White Sox attacking, the Orioles defending all night -- the end came as no surprise.


Orioles tonight

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Comiskey Park

Time: 7: 05

TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 50/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina (13-8, 4.98) vs. White Sox's Wilson Alvarez (14-5, 3.66)


Pub Date: 8/10/96