Homer helps Baines feel at home Newest Oriole's slow start ends with key 2-run HR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Designated hitter Harold Baines hasn't exactly knocked the cover off the ball since he rejoined the Orioles on Wednesday, but he still has a great sense of timing.

Baines hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning and it turned out to be the difference in a 7-5 victory over the Oakland A's at the Oakland Coliseum.

It was only his fourth hit in 16 at-bats since the deal that brought him back to Baltimore, but he said afterward that he was not feeling any pressure to make a big contribution during his first week back with the club.

"There's no pressure," he said. "You can't be afraid to give the pitchers credit. In the other at-bats, they jammed the heck out of me, but I went [1-for-5] and fortunately it was a big hit."

Baines has never been one to blow his own horn. He is a soft-spoken player who seldom seeks credit for his accomplishments, so it was not surprising when he waved off questions about the impact he has had since his arrival.

"If I remember correctly, the club has been in first place all year," Baines said. "I'm just trying to do my little part."

Hammonds update

Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game, hoping that the break and today's day off will allow his inflamed left Achilles' tendon to settle down. But it seems likely that Hammonds will have to play with some pain the rest of the season.

"If he plays four or five days, it gets stiffer each time," manager Davey Johnson said. "I don't know that there will be a point in the year where we'll be able to give him the time to let it go away."

For the moment, the club has ruled out putting Hammonds on the 15-day disabled list. The addition of Baines has deepened the roster enough that the club will not be left too short if Hammonds has to sit for several days.

"I don't think there's a chance of it becoming a major injury," Johnson said, "at least that's what the trainers tell me."

Bordick on A's

For shortstop Mike Bordick, returning to the Oakland Coliseum wasn't a terribly nostalgic experience.

"There aren't too many familiar faces," he said. "With Mac [Mark McGwire] gone to St. Louis, they're really doing a full-fledged rebuilding. It's different. It wasn't too long ago that you had McGwire and [Rickey] Henderson and all those guys."

It has been a productive trip, however. Bordick had the best offensive day of his major-league career Saturday, driving in five runs with a home run, a single and a sacrifice fly. Yesterday, he reached base three times with a single and two walks.

Around the horn

The only area in which the Orioles have not excelled this year is pinch hitting. O's pinch hitters are a combined 11-for-51 (.216) with five extra-base hits. Tony Tarasco, however, has three hits in nine pinch at-bats (.333). Second baseman Jeff Reboulet had two more hits in four at-bats and is 9-for-18 since taking over for the injured Roberto Alomar. Every regular in the Orioles lineup got at least one hit yesterday except catcher Chris Hoiles. On Saturday, every Oriole with an official at-bat except Rafael Palmeiro had at least one hit. The Orioles have out-homered the A's, 14-4, in nine games this season, so it should be no surprise that the Orioles have won seven of those nine games. Oakland's Jose Canseco missed his third straight game because of a sore back. Since breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record on Sept. 6, 1995, Cal Ripken has played in 294 straight games, which if taken by itself would constitute the third-longest active streak behind Houston's Craig Biggio (329) and Jeff Bagwell (300).

Roadwork

The Orioles are in the middle of an 18-game stretch with 15 road games, and with five road games to go, it's been a trip to remember (the Orioles also swept the three home games in the stretch, vs. Texas):

At Texas .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Result

July 21 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...W, 5-1

July 22 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...W, 9-3

July 23 .. .. .. ...W, 3-2, 12 inn.

At Minnesota Result

July 25 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...L, 5-2

July 26 .. .. .. ...W, 2-1, 12 inn.

July 27 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...W, 9-0

At Oakland Result

July 31 .. .. .. .. .W, 4-0 11 inn.

Aug. 1 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .L, 2-1

Aug. 2 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...W, 13-3

Aug. 3 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .W, 7-5

By the numbers

.. .. .. .. .. .. ..O's .. .. ..Opp.

Runs .. .. .. .. .. .55 .. .. .. .22

Home runs .. .. .. ..13 .. .. .. ..5

Average.. .. .. .. .267.. .. .. .233

ERA .. .. .. .. ...1.92 .. .. ..5.36

Inn. ahead .. .. .. .38 .. .. .. .21

Pub Date: 8/04/97

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