In the greater scheme of things, the second interleague game between the Orioles and the Montreal Expos didn't amount to much. The Orioles, stunned by the news that teammate Eric Davis had been found to have colon cancer, still went about their business and won for the fourth time in their last five games, but that was the only reason anyone had to smile last night.
Right-hander Scott Kamieniecki bounced back from a rocky start in Boston last week to pitch five solid innings and the Orioles broke Montreal's 10-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory before a sellout crowd of 47,793 at Camden Yards.
The pre-game mood was understandably subdued, the seriousness of Davis' illness affecting everyone in the clubhouse. The on-field situation -- though not nearly as important -- also became a preoccupation, as two more important players were lost because of injuries.
The Orioles found out yesterday afternoon that catcher Chris Hoiles could be lost for up to eight weeks with a knee injury he suffered Monday night. Then left-hander Arthur Rhodes was struck near the left knee by a sharp come-backer and knocked out of last night's game, though he probably will be lost only for a matter of days.
"It really wasn't an emotional high," manager Davey Johnson said.
They still got the job done, though. Reserve catcher Lenny Webster stepped up with three hits in his first game as the everyday catcher. Roberto Alomar drove in two runs. Tony Tarasco provided the margin of victory against his former team with an eighth-inning home run. Closer Randy Myers provided a little late-inning drama -- giving up a run and loading the bases before getting the last out -- but recorded his league-leading 24th save.
"Our thoughts are with Eric," said Kamieniecki, who improved to 5-3 with the victory. "The guy is battling for his life, but you still have to go out there. In the meantime, he'll be an inspiration for us."
In direct contrast to the pitched battle in Atlanta over the weekend, the Orioles spent the past two nights in a back-and-forth offensive battle that would cost each team its front-line catcher.
Hoiles suffered a partially torn ligament in his knee when he was run down at the plate by F. P. Santangelo on Monday night. Expos catcher Darrin Fletcher limped off the field in the second inning last night when he was leveled by Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick. Fletcher apparently suffered a sprained right ankle, but will undergo further tests today. Both are among the top-hitting catchers in the game and each represents a significant loss to his contending club.
The Orioles bounced back quickly from Monday night's 6-4 loss in the opener of the series, scoring three times in the second inning to give Kamieniecki some room to work.
Montreal starter Jim Bullinger struggled with his control in a scoreless first inning, then gave up five straight hits in the second. Tarasco started the one-out rally with a double off the left-field fence and moved around to score on back-to-back singles by Webster and Bordick.
Brady Anderson followed with a double to right that scored Webster and brought Bordick steaming around third base. The relay from second baseman Mike Lansing to Fletcher got there first, but Bordick made an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the baseball. He was out and so was Fletcher, who was replaced by reserve catcher Chris Widger.
Moments later, Alomar delivered a single through the middle to score Anderson with the third Orioles run.
Kamieniecki struggled badly in his previous start, giving up eight runs in a four-inning appearance in Boston, but he looked very sharp when he took the mound last night. He retired the first six batters he faced and gave up just an unearned run on one hit through the first three innings.
The Expos took advantage of an error by Bordick and a two-out walk to score a run on a single by Lansing, then tied the game on a tremendous home run by Henry Rodriguez and an RBI double by rookie Ryan McGuire in the fourth.
Rodriguez has been opening eyes all over the National League with his deceptive strength. He hit a ball on Sunday at Olympic Stadium in Montreal that struck the fringe of the roof and traveled 525 feet. This one traveled 443 feet and struck the canopy that covers Boog's Barbecue in the Eutaw Street corridor. It was the longest home run ever hit onto Eutaw Street and the eighth longest homer in the 5 1/2 -year history of Oriole Park.
Kamieniecki would have to face him again with runners on base and two outs in the fifth inning, but this time he struck out Rodriguez to end the inning and -- as it turned out -- preserve his third win in his last four decisions.
"He made me a little nervous," Johnson said of Kamieniecki. "He would be up for a couple of pitches and then he would make some quality pitches. When Rodriguez came up again, that was a tough call for me. If you get the ball up to him, it's going to end up on Eutaw Street as we already saw. But he's my fourth starter so I stayed with him and he answered the call."
The bottom of the Orioles' lineup stepped up again to help engineer the go-ahead run in the fourth. Webster led off the inning with his second of three hits and Bordick followed with a base hit. Both runners moved up on a nubber to first base by Anderson and Webster scored on a sacrifice fly by Alomar.
Kamieniecki gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and struck out four before giving way to Rhodes, who got the first two outs of the sixth inning before he became the club's latest injury victim.
He was struck below the left knee by a sharp come-backer off the bat of McGuire and knocked out of the game, but the injury probably looked worse than it was. Rhodes went down hard and stayed down for a couple of minutes, but X-rays revealed no breaks, and he is listed as day-to-day.
"There's nothing broken," Johnson said. "We're just going to wait and see how he is tomorrow."
Opponent: Montreal Expos
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 3: 05 p.m.
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Expos' Carlos Perez, (7-4, 3.54) vs. Orioles' Jimmy Key (11-1, 2.47
Tickets: Day-of-game bleachers and standing room only.
The Orioles' Jesse Orosco has been a busy -- and effective -- reliever in recent days, pitching in five straight games. A look:
Date ..Opp .. ..IP .. ..H .. ..ER .. ..BB .. ..K
6/13 ..Atl .. ... 1/3 .. ..0 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ..1
6/14 ..Atl .. ... 1/3 .. ..1 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. ..0
6/15 ..Atl .. ..1 1/3 .. ..1 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ..4
6/16 ..Mon .. ... 2/3 .. ..0 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ..0
6/17 ..Mon .. ... 1/3 .. ..0 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. ..1
Totals .. .. ..3.0 .. ..2 .. ...0 .. ...2 .. ..6
Pub Date: 6/18/97