PHILADELPHIA -- The Orioles smoothed over their rough pitching last night by hammering away at the plate. Not exactly National League-style baseball, but an effective tool nonetheless.
Shut out for the first time in 129 games the previous day, the Orioles made up for lost at-bats by erupting for a season-high 18 hits and scoring their most runs this year, taking the lead for good on back-to-back homers in the sixth by Rafael Palmeiro and Joe Carter in a wild 14-8 interleague victory over Philadelphia before 26,742 at Veterans Stadium.
Palmeiro went 3-for-6 and drove in four runs, as the Orioles (30-33) rebounded from two straight home losses to Atlanta over the weekend. His blow in the sixth off reliever Darrin Winston followed an RBI double by Roberto Alomar and broke a 7-7 tie.
Carter then punctuated the boos that accompanied each introduction with a long homer to left off Jerry Spradlin, more agony for Phillies fans still sore from his ninth-inning shot that won the 1993 World Series. He brought in another run in the eighth with a double, one of the Orioles' 10 extra-base hits.
"I know it's all good-natured," he said. "If they didn't boo me, they wouldn't have remembered what I did. You have to remind them, go out there and have some fun."
Brady Anderson knocked in four runs, B. J. Surhoff homered and Chris Hoiles had his first extra-base hit and multi-hit game since late April. Pitcher Doug Johns singled twice in his only at-bats in the major leagues, and reliever Arthur Rhodes bounced a single up the middle for his first hit, making Orioles pitchers 3-for-4.
The game also featured the second ejection this season of Orioles manager Ray Miller, who was tossed by plate umpire Joe West while sitting in the dugout in the eighth inning. It came because pitching coach Mike Flanagan had stepped away from the mound after visiting reliever Armando Benitez, then returned to offer further counsel, which constitutes two visits and brings an automatic ejection of the manager.
The pitcher is allowed to face one more batter, then must be removed. Jesse Orosco took over for Benitez with the bases loaded and one out during a double switch that put Jeff Reboulet at third base for Cal Ripken. Orosco got Mark Lewis to hit into a double play.
Palmeiro had been given the ball and stood alone on the mound, signaling for Orosco. "I didn't know what was going on," he said.
It was just another touch of insanity to a game that was disjointed from the start. A game with a combined 32 hits and more twists than a '50s sock hop.
"This is a hitter's park and pitching is thin at the major-league level," Miller said. "In fairness to this club, we're not that fast so we're going to have to win some games like this, but I don't want to win like this every day."
Johns hasn't lost since May 2, when he allowed an 11th-inning homer to Minnesota's Ron Coomer and went on the disabled list six days later with insomnia. That also was the last time he pitched in relief, getting two no-decisions upon his return before reeling off consecutive wins over Texas and Boston.
Only the ineptness of Philadelphia's pitchers kept his streak intact.
Johns seemed to be in trouble from the moment the last note was played in the National Anthem, never adjusting to a higher mound that contrasted with the flatter surface in the bullpen. Twice, the Orioles gave him the lead. Twice, he refused it.
Miller pulled the plug after four innings, going to a bullpen that was undermanned because Alan Mills and Norm Charlton needed rest and rookie Radhames Dykhoff had been hit on the leg Sunday. Johns had given up a season-high 10 hits and four walks, and the seven runs off him matched the total in his last seven appearances combined. He threw 85 pitches, only 46 for strikes.
His counterpart, right-hander Mike Grace, wasn't much better. Before last night, he had allowed only seven earned runs in 19 innings. But he was removed after walking Surhoff to open the fifth, a 7-6 lead no longer his to protect.
Grace had taken an instant liking to interleague play last year, tossing a three-hit shutout against the New York Yankees. He faced an Orioles lineup last night that had been shuffled to accommodate the absence of a designated hitter.
Alomar batted second for the first time since April 19. He hadn't hit anywhere but fifth since May 24. Carter batted cleanup, Ripken moved up to sixth after hitting seventh the previous 13 games, and Mike Bordick was bumped to eighth in a rare escape from the bottom of the order.
Grace looked just as shook up. It didn't help that he took a Palmeiro line drive off his right buttocks in the third inning, but it was far more painful to watch him labor. He gave up a season-high nine hits among his 87 pitches.
The Orioles had pushed across three unearned runs in the fourth to break a 3-3 tie. An error by second baseman Mark Lewis between singles by Hoiles and Johns loaded the bases with one out. Anderson grounded to first baseman Rico Brogna, who looked home before taking the out at first. After a walk to Alomar, Palmeiro dumped a two-run single to left.
Given a cushion, Johns punched it full of holes.
A two-run homer by Scott Rolen reduced the lead to 6-5. Mike Lieberthal doubled and Brogna tripled to right. He scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Lewis.
Bad pitching proved contagious. Borland, in relief of Grace, allowed consecutive doubles to Anderson and Alomar with one out in the sixth. Palmeiro and Carter homered, and all the Orioles had to do from there was hold on for dear life.
The Phillies got within 10-8 in the seventh on a leadoff double by Lewis and a single by former Oriole Rex Hudler. Benitez replaced Rhodes (3-2) with two outs and struck out Doug Glanville, then was bailed out by Orosco.
"We pieced together a win tonight," Palmeiro said.
The Phillies scored a run in the first inning without leaving the infield. Gregg Jefferies reached with one out on a chopper to third. Rolen walked and beat Bordick's throw to second on a grounder in the hole by Lieberthal. Jefferies then raced home on Brogna's bouncer to Palmeiro.
The lead lasted just three pitches. Grace fell behind 2-0 to Surhoff, then served up the Orioles left fielder's 10th homer.
The Orioles were just getting warmed up. So were the Phillies. So was the insanity.
Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies
Site: Veterans Stadium
Time: 7: 35
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: O's Sidney Ponson (0-3, 6.82) vs. Phillies' Matt Beech (1-3, 5.50)
Pub Date: 6/09/98