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Baines brushes off slump with HR Veteran stays in stride despite recent cold spell

Saying it's just part of baseball, Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines yesterday brushed off any concerns about a slump that had left him with five hits in his past 41 at-bats. Then he went out and got two hits -- including a home run -- to help the Orioles beat the New York Mets, 4-3.

The cold spell had followed a seven-game hitting streak, during which Baines batted .364 (8-for-22). His 2-for-5 last night lifted his average to .285 overall and .200 since rejoining the Orioles on July 29 in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for minor-league shortstop Juan Bautista.

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"All you can do is try to hit the ball where they're not," he said.

He did that in the seventh inning last night, hitting his first homer since Aug. 3 to end the shutout bid of Mets starter Dave Mlicki.

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"You can't let it get to you," he said of three balls that were run down on the warning track in the Kansas City series. "Just keep working hard every day and try to work out of it."

Before last night, Baines had one home run and six RBIs since leaving the White Sox. His double Sunday was his first extra-base hit since an Aug. 3 home run.

No matter how much he struggles at the plate, Baines won't resort to drastic measures. The pre-game routine and approach to playing stay the same.

"If you start changing, you can go deeper and deeper in a slump," he said. "Just because you're not getting hits doesn't mean you're going bad. You can be hitting line drives right at somebody.

"The last couple games it's getting better."

From both sides now

Rick Krivda took batting practice again yesterday along with other Orioles pitchers and was reminded how difficult it is to hit a baseball.

"It's really hard. I give those guys credit. I can't seem to put my finger on it," he said. "It seems like everything I hit good was up in the strike zone. I realize as a pitcher that anything down and away, nobody wants to swing at. I feel pretty comfortable bunting. Of course, I haven't seen 90-mph fastballs coming at me, either."

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After tonight, Krivda will make his next start Thursday in New York, missing the interleague series in Florida.

"One of the reasons that I think they juggled the rotation was they saw me hit," he said.

Davis update

Surgeon Keith Lillimoe reiterated that outfielder Eric Davis is taking no unusual risk by stepping up baseball-related workouts in anticipation of his return to action in mid-September.

"Is it safe for him to be out there?" Lillimoe said. "Absolutely. He is not going to hurt any part of his body [because of the chemotherapy]. The only thing might be if his reaction time is slower against a 95-mph Randy Johnson fastball, but that's something that only he can determine."

Ho-hum

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Manager Davey Johnson said he was excited about the first interleague series in Atlanta two months ago. He had trouble recapturing that feeling with the Mets in town. "We played these guys in the spring," he said.

Bleak scouting report

Mets manager Bobby Valentine received his advance scouting report on the Orioles and found it a bit light.

"There's usually some weaknesses pointed out," he said. "Other than the fact that, according to our scouts, there's not an abundance of team speed, there weren't many weaknesses brought to our attention."

Unlike some other teams the Mets have faced, most notably the Colorado Rockies, Valentine said the Orioles "seem like they have quality hitters, but they don't necessarily have bashers all lined up in a row."

Valentine didn't need a scouting report on Rafael Palmeiro, whom he managed in Texas. "Palmeiro is one of the most quality hitters in baseball. When he's hot, he's in another zone."

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Thanks, Davey

Valentine said he has incorporated a few things during his managerial career that he learned while serving as one of Johnson's coaches with the Mets before being named manager of the Texas Rangers in 1985. Among them is how to protect young pitchers, especially early in the season.

"I was a young guy and it was the first time I really saw this," he said.

Harnisch returns

Former Orioles pitcher Pete Harnisch visited Camden Yards for the first time yesterday, even though he spent several years in the Orioles' organization before leaving in 1991 in the ill-fated deal that brought Glenn Davis to Baltimore.

Harnisch has had many ups and downs since then -- including a much-publicized bout with depression earlier this season -- but he said yesterday he would welcome a chance to pitch here again.

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"It would be great," said Harnisch, 30. "I left here with no negative thoughts about this place. Maybe I didn't feel great about some of the people running the team at that time, but as far as the city, fans, guys on the team and all that, it was very positive."

Around the horn

Davey Johnson, former catcher Rick Dempsey and former general manager Harry Dalton will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame before tomorrow's game. Five of Mike Bordick's last eight hits have been for extra bases. The Mets' Bernard Gilkey went 2-for-4 and is 9-for-15 (.600) over his last four games. Starting times have been changed for two of the Orioles' games in Florida next week because they are being broadcast by ESPN. Monday's game has been switched from 4: 35 p.m. to 4: 05 p.m., and Wednesday's game has been pushed back from 7: 05 p.m. to 7: 35. Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly visited the Orioles' clubhouse before the game. Randy Myers needs two saves to pass Eddie Watt for fourth on the club's all-time list with 73. The Mets had won eight consecutive extra-inning games.

Pub Date: 8/30/97


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