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


NEW YORK -- No longer are the Orioles the 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 this time 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 contributed a three-run home run; Incaviglia, the bluest of blue-collar workers, slapped three singles to score four.

The win pushed the Orioles' 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, including a 1-6 homestand that was their worst since 1969. The Orioles haven't enjoyed a larger lead since Sept. 21, 1983.

No win this season better illustrates the Orioles' enhanced depth. 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.

Combined, they all but ensured a win for starter Scott Kamieniecki (4-2), who toughed out five innings in 104 pitches. What was considered a slumping offense only last Friday has now scored 32 runs in its last four games against playoff contenders.

"You look around and Brady's in center and B.J.'s in left," Hammonds said. "You look at the infield and they're all rocks, they're all solid. But we're all major-league players. None of us are rookies so we don't have a rookie's transition to make. We go out there with confidence."

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. Yankees starter Kenny Rogers (3-3), who beat the Orioles twice last year, provided the perfect foil.

Hammonds, who scored an important run in the series' first game by taking home on a seventh-inning wild pitch, 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 was 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.

Working with a 3-0 lead, he allowed a leadoff double to Paul O'Neill and a one-out single to Charlie Hayes. O'Neill stopped at third, but only long enough for No. 9 hitter Luis Sojo to single him home.

With the tying run on base Kamieniecki stemmed the uprising by striking out Tim Raines and getting Derek Jeter to ground into a fielder's choice.

The Orioles quickly buffed their lead to 5-1 in the third inning with Incaviglia as the enforcer. Benched the day before against Andy Pettitte, Roberto Alomar drilled a one-out double off Rogers for his first extra-base hit in 51 right-handed at-bats. Rogers followed by hitting Cal Ripken on the left knee. Ripken fell heavily, but got up quickly, stomped the first base bag and muttered his anger. Rafael Palmeiro's grounder to first advanced both runners for Incaviglia.

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 manager Davey Johnson last Wednesday.

In place due to the absence of Eric Davis, who returned to Baltimore earlier in the day to be examined by team doctors for stomach pain, Incaviglia responded by singling to center to score both runs. The RBIs were his first since May 4.

"I just went in and talked to him to see what was going on," Incaviglia said of his meeting with Johnson. "Davey's great. You can go in there and talk to him about anything and he gives you an honest answer. It helped clear the air. You might not like what you hear [from Johnson], but at least he's going to be honest with you."

Ahead 5-1, Kamieniecki gave one back in the inning's bottom half when Tino Martinez launched an upper-deck shot to right for his 18th home run and 52nd RBI.

Thanks to a back-breaking error by 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, 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 field to score Palmeiro and Incaviglia, who rumbled around from first base. Hoiles ended the scoring with a two-out single.

Kamieniecki's daredevil was scary enough in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases with two outs on a Raines single and consecutive walks. He escaped by freezing Bernie Williams for his second strikeout.

He nearly collapsed in the fifth inning with a 10-2 lead. The Yankees were helped by Ripken's one-out error against Cecil Fielder before piling on with Paul O'Neill's second hit and a two-run double by Hayes into the right-field corner.

Two outs shy of Kamieniecki qualifying for the win, Johnson reluctantly sent his bullpen into motion. In two previous games the pen had worked nine innings.

The pen worked four more in putting last night's game away. Brian Williams helped himself once more with strong sixth and seventh innings, but Terry Mathews and Jesse Orosco struggled in the eighth, allowing a total of four walks and two runs.

Armando Benitez came on to strike out Hayes with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and finished the ninth for his sixth save. The Yankees left 14 men on base.

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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