The Orioles had seven runs and eight hits on Friday and called it a doubleheader. Last night they had seven runs and eight hits and called it an inning to remember.
Using six RBIs from left fielder B. J. Surhoff and a successful gamble by manager Davey Johnson, the Orioles overcame a six-run deficit to leave Camden Yards with a meaningful 10-9 win over the Anaheim Angels, who entered the game with the AL West lead and left it numbed.
Nowhere in a memorable season had the Orioles overcome so much to win -- a fifth-inning 7-1 deficit, four home runs, a disastrous three-inning outing by starting pitcher Rick Krivda. The payoff was a 4 1/2 -game lead over the New York Yankees and a bonanza for Johnson, who boldly removed Krivda despite a bullpen drained by Friday's doubleheader and further diminished the placement of Shawn Boskie on the 15-day disabled list before the game.
With Krivda yielding three two-run homers, the Orioles fell behind 7-1, rallied to within 7-3 in the fifth inning, then erased an 8-3 deficit with their biggest inning of the season. The comeback made a winner of Arthur Rhodes (8-3), thanks to the bridge work of Alan Mills, Jesse Orosco and Armando Benitez. Randy Myers spiced a scoreless ninth inning with a pickoff of Rickey Henderson for his 36th save.
"I thought we wasted some opportunities, but we came back and exploded," Johnson said. "There's no letup on this team. My 'pen was tired. I had to go there in the fourth inning. I was short. Everybody had to do a little bit. It was a great win."
The win was big for the Orioles. The loss was huge to Anaheim, which handed over first place in the AL West to the Seattle Mariners. The Angels have shown themselves to be one of baseball's most resilient teams this season. After last night, their best attribute would be a case of amnesia.
"We won't think about it. This team does not dwell on it. That's one of the strengths of this club. We don't dwell on stuff that's already passed," insisted Angels manager Terry Collins. "Tomorrow will be a hot, steamy afternoon and we've got to go out to do the same thing we did today, and that's attack."
The Angels wasted home runs by Jim Edmonds, Darin Erstad, Tim Salmon and Todd Greene. They stranded only two runners.
This isn't the first time the Angels have played loose with a lead. "I could give you 10 [examples]," Collins said.
But none could be more painful to watch. Ken Hill, whom the Angels acquired from the Texas Rangers July 29, received a 7-1 lead and self-destructed. Of his six walks, four came after the Angels had handed him a six-run lead.
"We try to get some guys on base, get some hits, then take our chances," Surhoff said. "Guys did the job holding us in the bullpen. They walked a few too many guys.
"You can handle it a little bit better if guys are getting hits. If you walk guys, it gives them a chance to do something with a couple of hits. You don't want to give any team too many opportunities, especially the middle of the lineup," Surhoff said.
Collins said of Hill: "I don't think he left many balls in the middle. Base on balls just killed us. You can't walk people on this team. They're going to hurt you."
Surhoff entered in a 1-for-15 slide but left having tied his career-high for RBIs in a game. Twice he followed walks with big hits.
Surhoff finished with two doubles and a single plus a run scored. "I haven't been very good lately," Surhoff said. "You've got to break out of it. It's a matter of when."
Trailing 7-1, Surhoff singled home Jeffrey Hammonds and Aaron Ledesma with one out in the fifth inning. Hill walked three in the inning but looked to have escaped when Rafael Palmeiro grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Collins surprised much of the home dugout when he sent Hill out for the sixth. Disbelief grew when Cal Ripken and, with one out, Chris Hoiles singled without a move. With two outs, seven consecutive hitters reached base. The first two reached against Hill, who was finally lifted with an 8-4 lead and the bases loaded. The final straw was a bases-loaded walk to rookie Aaron $H Ledesma, responsible for the game's most significant plate appearance when he fouled off six pitches during an 11-pitch at-bat. Ledesma received new life when Erstad bungled a foul pop near the first base photographer's well.
The inning exploded when Darrell May came on to face Surhoff, who pulled a double into the right-field corner to clear the bases. Surhoff took third when Tim Salmon boxed the ball and scored the tying run on Geronimo Berroa's single.
TC "This team never gives up. Never. This is a different situation for me. There is a lot of confidence here," said Berroa, rescued from the last-place Oakland Athletics in June.
The inning peaked when Ripken, its 10th hitter, singled up the middle to score Berroa and designated hitter Harold Baines followed with the inning's eighth hit to plate Palmeiro for a 10-8 lead.
"That was a good one," said Johnson. "I guess after getting down six runs, the offense decided it had to take a hand in a win. It was very satisfying against a great club and a good bullpen."
The inning was the Orioles' biggest of the season and contrasted their struggles against the Seattle Mariners in Friday's day-night doubleheader.
"We haven't had to do it very much this year," Surhoff said. "Last year we had to do it more often. We were in a lot more big-scoring games last year. We're not leading the league in pitching for nothing. We seem to play to the score of the game a lot. Last year we played for big innings a lot because we had to. This year we don't have to play for big innings, not that you're not trying to."
The Orioles bullpen put together another impressive six innings, with only Rhodes allowing any runs.
But none of it would have happened had Johnson decided to concede the game and allow Krivda to take a further beating in order to save his bullpen. He called upon Rhodes in a role typically filled by Boskie. Call-up Esteban Yan won't be activated until tomorrow.
"I hate to [concede] in front of 48,000 [fans]. I did it more last year because I didn't have a lot of resources," Johnson said.
"I hate to ever give in, especially when I've got a lot of assets out there. I'm going to use them. I don't want to burn them up. Hopefully, Yan will get here tomorrow. I can get [today's starter Scott] Erickson going. But it's tough."
Opponent: Anaheim Angels
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 1:35 p.m.
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Angels' Allen Watson (10-7, 4.59) vs. O's Scott Erickson (14-5, 3.33)
Tickets: Only scattered singles and bleacher seats remain.
B. J. Surhoff broke out of a five-game slump last night.
Date, H, AB, Avg., RBI
8/9-15, 1, 15, .067, 0
Last night, 3, 5, .600, 6
Orioles left-hander Rick Krivda was 14-2 with a 3.39 ERA when he was recalled from Rochester, but he has found the major leagues to be another matter in his three starts this season, pitching to a 9.49 ERA and allowing five home runs:
Date, Opp, IP, H, ER, HR, Res
7/29, Tex, 5 1/3 , 5, 3, 1, W 5-4
Oak, 4, 5, 4, 1, ND
8/16, Ana, 3, 6, 6, 3, ND
Tot., 12 1/3 , 16, 13, 5, 1-0