ANAHEIM, Calif. -- One night, the Orioles hit five homers and they make you wonder if they might match up favorably with the Atlanta staff of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
The next night the Orioles lose to a guy named Pep Harris.
Same old story. The Orioles surge to go nine games over .500, and they lose. They've had seven chances to go 10 games over .500 this year, and seven times they've lost. They lost in a big way last night, 10-2; the Angels scored all their runs against Rocky Coppinger, Jimmy Haynes and Archie Corbin after there were two outs.
With the loss, the Orioles fell a game behind Chicago in the wild-card standings, and stayed four games behind the New York Yankees, who are losing when the Orioles lose and winning when the Orioles win. Brady Anderson hit his 43rd homer last night to open the game, and it went downhill from there.
"Rocky wasn't real sharp," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson, "and Jimmy wasn't much better."
The Orioles stayed on theme in the first inning last night. Harris threw Anderson a fastball over the middle of the plate and thigh high, about the worst place for a pitch to a hitter in the midst of a career year. Anderson turned on it, and with maximum leverage in his swing, drove his 43rd homer over the right-field wall. It was the ninth time this season Anderson has led off with a homer, tying Rickey Henderson's AL record set in 1986.
Todd Zeile followed that with a laser to the base of the left-field wall, and from all indications, this was going to be a repeat of Monday night, when the Orioles hammered five homers the Angels, 12-8. Harris hadn't lasted more than five innings before last night, and he had a 6.14 ERA.
But the Orioles' rout never materialized. Roberto Alomar, after unsuccessfully trying twice to lay down a sacrifice bunt, followed Zeile's double with a popout to third. The bunting failure cost the Orioles a run when Rafael Palmeiro lined out to the base of the center-field wall -- moving Zeile to third instead of home -- and Bobby Bonilla grounded out.
The Angels immediately jumped all over Coppinger (8-6), who is experiencing growing pains at about the worst possible time for the Orioles. When he was at his best, in late July and in early August, Coppinger had exceptional command of his fastball and slider. Last night, he could control neither, often veering to his left, causing his pitches to fly high.
Coppinger was pitching on three days' rest, and afterward, he said he felt tired, even in the first inning. "I don't know what it was," Coppinger said. "It might be the four-man [rotation] that hit me. I might've hit a brick wall today, I can't use that as an excuse."
Garret Anderson and Gary DiSarcina singled in runs in the first inning, both coming with two outs, and with two outs in the second inning, Angels center fielder Jim Edmonds crushed a fastball 10 or 15 rows into the stands in right. It was the Angels' 99th homer of the season at Anaheim Stadium, tying the club record set in 1982. Take that, Orioles. California led 3-1.
The Orioles scored again off Harris in the third, and were within a run again. But the Angels plated another two-out run in the fourth. Edmonds singled Todd Greene to third, and Tim Salmon looped a double over third base and Greene rambled home.
After the inning, Johnson told Coppinger he was finished for the night; the rookie needed 91 pitches to get through the first four innings.
Coppinger is in the first slump of his short major-league career. He's allowed 33 hits and 21 runs in 18 1/3 innings over his past four starts, and hasn't lasted more than five innings in any.
"Maybe he was just trying to do a lot on three days' rest," said Johnson. "We've asked a lot of him this year."
Even as Coppinger departed, having yielded four runs and eight hits, the Orioles, averaging seven runs per game over their last 33 games, were easily within shooting distance of the Angels. A couple of runs? No big deal.
But then Haynes relieved Coppinger in the bottom of the fifth, the beginning of the end for the Orioles.
Haynes was sent to the minors at the end of July, his confidence diminished; at the time, Haynes said he was surprised he lasted so long in the big leagues. He pitched for Rochester with mixed results, until the Orioles brought him back to make an emergency start against Seattle on Thursday. The Mariners pounded him for five runs in 3 1/3 innings, and he was lucky he didn't give up more.
So poorly did Haynes fare that the Orioles' staff debated whether to include him on the roster for September, considering the possibility of sitting him down for the final month; better that, perhaps, then having him get pounded some more.
But the Orioles decided to keep him, let him know they have
confidence in his ability, and hopefully give him a chance to pitch in non-pressure situations.
Haynes walked into a pressure situation last night, a game with playoff implications, the Orioles and their explosive offense only two runs down in the fifth inning.
"I was hoping he'd give me three or four innings," said Johnson. "He had four days' rest."
He bombed, and again, all the California runs came with two outs. George Arias walked to put runners at first and second with two out, Greene singled in a run, Randy Velarde singled to give the Angels a 6-2 lead, and Edmonds walked, loading the bases.
Johnson called for right-hander Corbin, who did his job by getting the tough Salmon to pop up to short center. But Anderson had taken a step back, and couldn't recover before the ball fell, scoring two more runs. When Corbin finally registered the last out of the inning, the Angels led 10-2.
Now it was a non-pressure situation. Johnson cleared his bench in the bottom of the seventh, inserting Manny Alexander, as well as rookies Brent Bowers and Eugene Kingsale.
And so it came to pass that Pep Harris pitched a career-high seven innings and beat the Orioles for his first major-league victory.
All of the Angels' runs against the Orioles last night came after two outs:
Inn. Batter ..Hit ... .Score
1st Anderson RBI single 1-1
1st DiSarcina RBI single 2-1
2nd Edmonds Home run 3-1
4th Salmon RBI double 4-2
5th Greene RBI single 5-2
5th Velarde RBI single 6-2
5th Salmon 2-run single 8-2
5th Davis 2-run double 10-2
Opponent: California Angels
Site: Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium
Time: 10: 35 TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Scott Erickson (9-11, 5.45) vs. Angels' Dennis Springer (4-3, 5.40)
Pub Date: 9/04/96