Roberto Alomar couldn't get the ball out of the infield in five tries, and Orioles pitchers couldn't keep it in the park. Starter Mike Mussina didn't get past the sixth inning, and the bullpen didn't convert a save for the first time this season.
A player was ejected, and others should have been so lucky to get away from this one early. Somehow, a gray sky and a steady rain provided the right touch.
The Boston Red Sox hit five home runs yesterday, including three in the eighth inning, to salvage a split of the series with a 13-7 win before a damp sellout crowd of 47,307.
In a game filled with oddities, Butch Henry worked two shutout innings in relief to pick up his first win since Aug. 10, 1995, the same month he underwent tendon transplant surgery on his left elbow. And Orioles reliever Armando Benitez was tossed by home plate umpire Rich Garcia in the eighth after whistling a fastball under the chin of Jeff Frye.
Boston had a season-high 19 hits, including four by catcher Bill Haselman, tying a career high. It was the second time this season they collected five homers.
"They had their hitting shoes on," said manager Davey Johnson.
Records were tied and slumps were broken. At least, some of them.
This would have been the appropriate setting for Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick to get his first RBI. Alas, his fly ball to center with one out in the sixth wasn't deep enough to score Tony Tarasco. The wait continues.
One day after Alomar became the first player at Camden Yards to hit three homers in a game, Eric Davis gave a pretty good chase. Still bothered by a sore shoulder, Davis launched a two-run shot in the first inning that traveled 413 feet into the seats in left, and led off the third with a 420-foot homer into the Orioles' bullpen that tied the score at 3.
With visions of another trifecta in the air, Davis lined out and singled twice, giving him 10 hits and six RBIs in the series. It was the 13th four-hit game of his career, and it continued a torrid week.
Since returning Tuesday from a four-game layoff because of injuries, Davis has batted .560. He also made another superb play in right yesterday, running down a slicing fly ball by Tim Naehring.
"He's doing it all. I like to watch him play," Johnson said.
Davis doesn't like to dwell on it. "You start thinking, you get in trouble," he said.
Cal Ripken joined Davis on center stage, shaking a recent slump with a three-run homer in the fifth off left-hander Steve Avery that gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead, and an RBI single in the ninth that would be the club's last gasp.
Mussina needed all the help he could get. He allowed eight hits and five runs, including bases-empty homers by Mo Vaughn in the third and Naehring in the fourth, and threw 99 pitches. Even some of the good ones were jacked.
"Everything they hit seemed to find a hole," Johnson said.
Said Mussina: "[Reggie] Jefferson hit the ball off the ground. It would have landed on top of the plate probably, and he hits it over my center fielder's head. Mo hit a ball for a home run that was probably six inches outside. Naehring hit the foul pole on a pitch that was in off the plate. Haselman hits one that was almost on the ground down the left-field line for a double.
"It wasn't like I was putting them down the middle and getting crushed. If I had been doing that, then I'd really be disappointed in the way I pitched. But you have to give them credit. I made the pitch I wanted to make and I got hit."
Three times, Arthur Rhodes took off his jacket and began warming up during the game, only to take a seat when Mussina wriggled off the hook. Rhodes, who had yielded only one earned run this season, finally came in to begin the seventh and allowed four straight hits and three runs -- his first since April 5 -- to wipe out a 6-5 lead and make the bullpen 11-for-12 in save opportunities.
Haselman led off with his third double, this one into left-center field on a two-strike pitch. Frye reached on an infield hit, and run-scoring singles by Nomar Garciaparro and Wil Cordero moved the Red Sox ahead 7-6. Rhodes (2-1) blew a fastball past Vaughn on a full count, then was removed for Benitez, who promptly threw a wild pitch, putting runners on second and third.
With the rain coming down harder, time was called while the grounds crew did some work on the mound and around home plate. Pinch hitter Mike Stanley then lifted a sacrifice fly to right, and Naehring flew out to end the inning.
Benitez wouldn't be around much longer. Troy O'Leary homered to open the eighth for a 9-6 lead, and after a walk to John Valentin, Haselman continued torturing the Orioles with a 443-foot shot into the Red Sox bullpen, the eighth-longest home run at Camden Yards.
Benitez's next pitch was too close to Frye's head for Garcia's comfort, and the Orioles had their first ejection of the season, accompanied by a brief argument from the right-hander, catcher Chris Hoiles and Johnson.
"Normally, you give him a warning," Johnson said. "It's wet, he's a little wild, he slips and the ball goes up and in."
Shawn Boskie was summoned, and two outs later, Cordero hit the last of Boston's home runs, tying the Oriole Park record for homers by an opponent set by the California Angels in 1994. Frye nearly had another in the ninth, but settled for a run-scoring double off the base of the wall in left.
Soon, it was over.
The day after the Orioles scored 14 runs on 18 hits, the Red Sox pounded 19 hits for 13 runs.
"It was a strange series," Mussina said.
Eric the red hot
Orioles right fielder Eric Davis has been a hot hitter since returning to the lineup Tuesday. A look at his statistics before Tuesday and since:
........ AB .. R ... H .. 2B .. HR .. RBI .. Avg.
Bef. ... 36 .. 7 ... 9 ... 2 ... 0 .... 3 .. .250
Since .. 25 .. 8 .. 14 ... 3 ... 5 ... 13 .. .560
Pub Date: 4/28/97