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O's balance tilts Yanks for sweep Rarely used Incaviglia, Hammonds drive in 7 to power 10-6 victory; N.Y. 1-7 in last 8 games; 7 1/2 -game AL East lead biggest since Sept. '83

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- No longer can the Orioles be described as a self-indulgent team of 25 players and 25 cabs. Last night against the New York Yankees they reiterated a new creed: 25 players, 25 ways to win.

Drawing on reserves Jeffrey Hammonds and Pete Incaviglia, the Orioles throttled the Yankees, 10-6, to complete a sweep of their two-game confrontation at Yankee Stadium. Hammonds and Incaviglia, who began the night with a combined 17 RBIs, drove in seven runs.

Hammonds gave the Orioles a 3-0 second-inning lead with a three-run homer against Yankees starter Kenny Rogers. Incaviglia drove in his first runs in more than three weeks with a pair of two-run singles.

"We've got some guys missing. We need to have those guys stand up. It's been our trademark this year. When people are down other people step in and do the job. That's our success story," manager Davey Johnson said.

No win this season better illustrates the Orioles' enhanced depth. Eric Davis had returned to Baltimore earlier in the day to have his stomach examined. Incaviglia, the night's designated hitter, had received only 29 at-bats in the last 22 days. Right fielder Hammonds had played only 10 games since April 27 because of various ailments.

"I realize what's going on. Eric is down right now and I'm going out there," Hammonds said. "We realize Brady's out there in center. B. J.'s in left. You look at the infield and they're all rocks. They're all solid. But we're all major-league ballplayers. None of us are rookies. So we don't have a rookie's transition. We go out there with confidence."

The Orioles have played their projected Opening Day lineup for only a handful of games. Improvisation has become a strength.

Still, nothing came easy. The Orioles grabbed a 10-2 lead after 4 1/2 innings but had to survive a scary eighth when the Yankees closed to 10-6 against a tired bullpen and twice brought the tying run to the plate. The Orioles got out of the jam when Jesse Orosco atoned for walking in two runs by striking out Paul O'Neill, leaving the Yankees right fielder 0-for-11 lifetime against him, then handing off to Armando Benitez.

The Dominican strongman blew away Charlie Hayes for his fourth strikeout in a row during the series, then finished the ninth for his sixth save.

"I thought it might be an easy game. But nothing is ever easy here," said Johnson.

The Orioles have rediscovered their offense the last four games against two playoff teams. Since last Saturday they have scored 32 runs. They've also found breathing room. The win pushed the Orioles' bulging lead in the American League East to 7 1/2 games over the Toronto Blue Jays and eight over the Yankees, losers of seven of eight. The Orioles haven't enjoyed a larger lead since Sept. 21, 1983.

With eight wins in their last 10 games, the Orioles have reasserted themselves against a division that can't find an opening. They still haven't suffered anything more than a two-game losing streak and are riding the third-best start in franchise history.

Ending a homestand at 1-6, the Yankees endured their worst home stretch of six games or more since a 1-7 disaster in 1969. Combined, Hammonds and Incaviglia all but ensured a win for starter Scott Kamieniecki (4-2), who toughed out five innings in 104 pitches for the decision.

Last night's beating was so bad that the remnants of a crowd of 29,392 turned on the locals. After coming from 6-2 down on Monday, the Orioles chose to play from ahead this time. Rogers (3-3), who beat the Orioles twice last year, provided the perfect foil.

"I didn't think he pitched that bad. He just made a few mistakes," Incaviglia said. "If he doesn't make any mistakes, we don't get any hits. Sometimes you tip your hat to them. Sometimes you tip your cap to us. He made some mistakes and we capitalized on them."

Incaviglia had been spoiling for a situation such as this. With only seven RBIs in 86 at-bats entering the game, he was rankled by infrequent opportunities and had sought a meeting with Johnson last Wednesday.

"I had that same kind of relationship with [Jim] Fregosi in Philadelphia. It's nice to be able to go in and put things to rest. You may not like what you hear, but he tells you the truth. That's all you can ask for," Incaviglia said.

In place due to the absence of Davis, Incaviglia responded to a two-out, two-on situation in the third by singling to center to score both runs. The RBIs were his first since May 4.

Hammonds scored an important run in the series' first game Monday by taking home on a seventh-inning wild pitch. Last night he crashed his fourth home run with two men on in the second inning. The blast carried over the 399-foot marker in left-center field. Thirty minutes before, Kamieniecki had been fitted for a World Series ring as a member of last year's Yankees. Thanks to Hammonds, he received something nearly as valuable, a three-run lead in his most significant start with his new team.

It was vintage Kamieniecki. He left 'em trembling.

Kamieniecki represents the little fourth behind the Orioles' Big Three. He is not as overpowering as Mike Mussina, as precise as Jimmy Key or as controlling as Scott Erickson. What he does offer is suspense and plenty of it.

A Kamieniecki performance isn't complete without walking on a ledge. Most times he can be talked down by catcher Chris Hoiles, pitching coach Ray Miller or himself. Last night he again stepped out only to rescue himself in the second and fourth innings.

The night's biggest scare involved Cal Ripken, who took four stitches in his right shin after cartwheeling into the photographer's pit alongside third base. "I didn't even know I cut it. I just pulled a Super Dave Osborne," Ripken said.

Thanks to a back-breaking error by shortstop Derek Jeter and Incaviglia's second clutch hit, the Orioles broke open the game and the series with a five-run fifth inning, pushing their lead to eight runs and giving them 16 runs in their last eight innings. Beginning with one out, Roberto Alomar walked and Ripken singled. Palmeiro then slapped a potential double-play ball that Jeter kicked into center field.

With the bases loaded, Incaviglia drove another two-run single, scoring Alomar and Ripken and chasing the fractious Rogers after only 4 1/3 innings.

Facing Jim Mecir, B. J. Surhoff doubled to left-center field to score Palmeiro and Incaviglia, who rumbled around from first base. Hoiles ended the Orioles' scoring with a two-out single.

What a difference a year makes

Last year's first series with the Yankees (April 30-May 1 at Camden Yards) was in direct contrast to this year's first showdown of AL East leaders, in various ways. Here's a quick look:

............... Last year ...................... This year

Wins .......... N.Y., 13-10, 11-6 (15 inn.) .... O's, 8-6, 10-6

Rallies ....... N.Y. from 9-4 down to win opener, 13-10

................................................ O's from 6-2 down to win

................................................ opener, 8-6

Runs .......... N.Y. 24, O's 16 ................ O's 18, N.Y. 12

Hits .......... N.Y. 37, O's 24 ................ O's 21, N.Y. 19

Bullpens ...... N.Y. 0 ER in 18 inn., O's 10 ER in 12 2/3 inn.

................................................ N.Y. 2 ER in 7 2/3 inn.,

................................................ O's 2 ER in 8 inn.

O's DHs in series ... 2-for-8 (.250) 1 RBI ..... 6-for-10 (.600) 4 RBIs

Standing ...... N.Y. +1 1/2 after sweep ........... O's +8 after sweep

Pub Date: 5/28/97

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