The frustration that built from an extended period of offensive failures came pouring out of the Orioles in one inning last night. And it buried the same team that had helped bring them to a boiling point.
The Orioles scored six times in the seventh inning to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-5, before 47,042 at Camden Yards, rewarding the stingy work of reliever Terry Mathews and ending a six-game losing streak.
It also picked up a game in the standings for the first time in 10 days as New York lost to Cleveland to fall 5 1/2 games back.
Brady Anderson, playing on two sore legs and mired in an 8-for-56 slump, came within a triple of the cycle. His RBI single in the seventh was among the Orioles' six hits that inning, and it further destroyed what had began as a 3-3 tie.
"Anytime you stop a losing streak, there's a sense of relief," Anderson said. "But that's why you play 162 games. You're going to go through some bad times. You just try to minimize them."
Cal Ripken began the key inning by falling behind 0-2 to Blue Jays starter Robert Person (3-6), before grounding a single to right. After running the count full, B. J. Surhoff also singled to right, moving Ripken to second. Jeffrey Hammonds laid down a bunt on the right side that went from a sacrifice to an infield hit when Carlos Delgado looked to third before throwing late to first. Second baseman Carlos Garcia dropped the ball as Hammonds streaked across.
Bases loaded, none out. The situation screamed for a clutch hit, something that has fallen on deaf ears during the Orioles' slide.
This time, the message came in loud and clear.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston walked to the mound, but stayed with Person. Bad idea. Tony Tarasco, batting for Lenny Webster, lined Person's first pitch into right field, scoring two runs.
"I've been in that situation before," said Tarasco, who is 3-for-4 with two walks and four RBIs as a pinch hitter. "I was basically a pinch hitter when I was in Atlanta my first year. It's nothing new to me. I know how to prepare for it all game, just make sure I stay in the batting cage and make sure I'm loose and stay prepared."
Mike Bordick delivered a sacrifice fly that upped the lead to 6-3. Left-hander Dan Plesac replaced Person, and Anderson then singled to right, driving in his second run of the game. After
advancing Anderson to third with a wild pitch, Plesac gave up a sacrifice fly by Roberto Alomar and Geronimo Berroa's second home run as an Oriole, deep into the seats in left field.
Six runs were in, more than the Orioles had scored while being swept in four games by the Blue Jays late last month, the start of a 5-10 stretch. And the losing streak was history.
Said manager Davey Johnson: "I think once Tarasco got the hit, it seemed like everybody felt a lot better, all the way through the lineup."
Johnson did some minor doctoring of the lineup again last night, dropping Berroa back to the No. 3 spot in the order and batting Alomar second.
Johnson hadn't forgotten how Person tied his club in knots in a June 27 game at Camden Yards. Back then, Person limited the Orioles to one run and three hits over 7 2/3 innings to earn a 2-1 win.
"We're trying to make some guys get something going offensively," Johnson said before the game. "This guy threw pretty well against us last time, so we need to jump on him."
It didn't take long.
Anderson led off with a double off the wall in left-center. He advanced to third on a long fly ball to center by Alomar, and trotted home on Berroa's sacrifice fly -- his fifth RBI in 13 games with the Orioles.
Three batters, and the Orioles had their first lead since the first inning of a July 6 loss in Detroit that sent them staggering into the All-Star break.
It held up until the fifth inning. Benito Santiago singled with one out, and Carlos Garcia lined an off-speed pitch from Orioles starter Scott Kamieniecki into the second row of seats in left. The ball was down and in, and Garcia turned it into his second homer of the season, the other also coming at Camden Yards last month.
No. 9 hitter Alex Gonzalez followed with a double off the base of the scoreboard in right, but was stranded at third.
Kamieniecki, winless since June 22 in Toronto, walked two in the first inning but didn't allow a hit until one out in the fourth, when Delgado singled down the right-field line.
But Person also regrouped after the first, striking out six over the next three innings.
His lead vanished quickly when Surhoff led off the fifth with a home run over the scoreboard in right, his 12th of the season and first since June 28. But Delgado, who was 1-for-8 lifetime off Kamieniecki before last night, answered with a 383-foot shot into the seats in right-center with one out in the sixth, putting the Blue Jays ahead 3-2. Ed Sprague and Shawn Green both singled up the middle, and Terry Mathews was summoned from the bullpen.
With Kamieniecki's departure, an Orioles starter still hasn't won since July 3 in Detroit, when Jimmy Key went eight innings to defeat the Tigers.
"Kammy did a heck of a job," Johnson said of his starter, who hadn't pitched since July 2 against Philadelphia. "He had 12 days without doing any pitching, and he did a great job keeping us in it. Twelve days is a long time. I had been holding him around a hundred pitches anyway. I just didn't want to push it. He wasn't throwing as good as he threw earlier, and I didn't want to push him."
At least Kamieniecki, who allowed three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, wouldn't take the loss.
Anderson, who bent over and began flexing his right knee after fielding Green's hit, ended a homerless drought dating back to June 14 with a 398-footer to right to begin the sixth, tying the game at 3 and leaving it in Mathews' hands.
He picked up the win, his second in three decisions, with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Armando Benitez got the last out in the eighth, stranding two runners, but walked two batters after a Cal Ripken throwing error to load the bases with no outs in the ninth.
Johnson called on closer Randy Myers, making his first Orioles appearance since July 4, and the left-hander induced two run-scoring ground balls and got Delgado to ground to short.
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 7: 35
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Blue Jays' Juan Guzman (3-5, 4.29) vs. O's Shawn Boskie (4-3, 5.63)
Tickets: 2,500 remain
Back in the swing
The Orioles could muster little offense when they were swept by the Blue Jays at home nearly three weeks ago, but that wasn't the case last night at Camden Yards. Here's a look at the Orioles' combined offensive output for that four-game series compared with last night's outburst:
Dates .. .. .... ..Avg. .. ...Runs .. ..HR .. ..2B
June 26-29.. .. . .188 .. .. ..5 .. .. ..2 .. ...3
July 14.. .. .. . .355 .. .. ..9 .. .. ..3 .. ...2
A look at Brady Anderson's home runs by month in 1996 and this season. Last night, Anderson homered for the first time since June 14:
Month .. .. .. .. .1996 .. ..1997
March/April .. .. ..11 .. .. ...2
May .. .. .. .. .. ..9 .. .. ...4
June .. .. .. .. .. .7 .. .. ...1
July .. .. .. .. .. .6 .. .. ...1
August .. .. .. .. ..8 .. .. ..--
Sept./Oct. .. .. .. .9 .. .. ..--
Total .. .. .. .. ..50 .. .. ...8
1996 frequency: 1 per 11.58 AB
1997 frequency: 1 per 41.13 AB
Pub Date: 7/15/97