BALTIMORE, JUNE 2 -- At the beginning, there was four of the first seven Oakland A's reaching base. In the middle, there was an infield collision with Ray Knight, and at the end, stifling heat. Mike Boddicker survived all of them for eight innings tonight, and at a time when the Baltimore Orioles were desperate for a decent performance from a starting pitcher, he gave them much more.
The result was a 9-2 victory over the A's before 25,174 at Memorial Stadium and the end to Baltimore's four-game losing streak.
Nothing less was expected. Boddicker (5-1) has stopped nine losing streaks the last two seasons, and this was the second time he had stopped a four-game skid. He did it with the usual stuff, tempting sliders on the corners, breaking balls over the top and fastballs on the fists. In doing so, he again reminded the Orioles that they're tight-roping through the season with one reliable starter.
"He was outstanding," Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said. "He goes out and gives you an outstanding effort every game. He gave the bullpen some breathing room, but that's only one day. We need a couple more days of this."
The Orioles had nine hits, including back-to-back homers by Terry Kennedy and Larry Sheets in the seventh. They broke it open with three runs in the seventh off starter Dave Stewart (6-5) and four more in the eighth off Eric Plunk.
Sheets was in the middle of both rallies, reaching base four times with a homer, double and two walks to raise his average to .365. He's still about 30 plate appearances short of qualifying for the league leaders in batting, but he appears to have won the chance to play full time for the first time in his three-season career. He'll know Wednesday, when Ripken writes the lineup against left-hander Curt Young.
"I'm going to prepare myself like I'm going to play every night now," Sheets said. "But if I don't, I'm going to stay ready. It's tough because I look around this room and see how many good players we have. It's a tough decision for the manager, and I'll live with it."
A bigger story tonight, though, was the pitching. Before the game, no Orioles starter had pitched longer than 5 2/3 innings in the first six games of this homestand, and in 25 innings, they'd been hammered for 25 earned runs and 42 hits.
Boddicker fell an inning short of nine, but did give the Orioles their first victory from a starting pitcher since Eric Bell won in Oakland on May 25. The A's got seven hits and a run off him before reliever Tom Niedenfuer pitched the ninth. Niedenfuer yielded a homer to Tony Phillips.
After working out of trouble in the first and second innings, Boddicker sailed into the seventh, when he ran into a problem. Literally.
Jose Canseco opened the seventh by popping a bunt behind the mound. In attempting to field it, Boddicker and Knight collided, with Knight's left knee catching Boddicker on the left shoulder.
Boddicker lay motionless on the infield while trying to figure out how badly he was hurt. "At first, I just had the wind knocked out of me," he said. "Then I started thinking I might have broken a rib. I'd seen football injuries where ribs were broken in collisions like that."
Canseco went to second on Jackson's grounder to Burleson, and after Phillips struck out, Griffin singled to right to make it 2-1.
Kennedy and Sheets led off the last of the seventh with homers on successive pitches to make it 4-1; they also hit back-to-back shots Monday night. For the season, the Orioles have hit back-to-back homers five times, and Sheets has been involved in four of them.
Burleson followed with a double, went to third on Mike Young's fly to left and scored on Jim Dwyer's sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
Plunk came in to pitch the eighth, and Eddie Murray led off with a single. After Fred Lynn struck out, Knight doubled to right. Kennedy was walked intentionally, and Sheets doubled to left-center for two runs. Burleson popped out, then Young singled to center for two more.
Ripken said Scott McGregor will be removed from the starting rotation indefinitely. General Manager Hank Peters spent much of the day on the phone seeking to trade for a starter, but, as always, about 25 other teams also are seeking pitching.
Blue Jays 4, Mariners 3:
George Bell's 17th home run of the season triggered a four-run second inning that carried Toronto past visiting Seattle.
Bell led off the second against Mike Moore (2-7) with a homer to left that tied the score at 1. One out later, Rance Mulliniks singled and Ernie Whitt hit an RBI double. Kelly Gruber and Tony Fernandez followed with run-scoring doubles.
Reliever Jeff Musselman (3-1) won with help from Tom Henke, who got his ninth save as the Mariners' four-game winning streak ended.
Yankees 3, Angels 2:
Mike Pagliarulo's bases-empty home run broke an eighth-inning tie and sent California to defeat in New York.
Pagliarulo's seventh homer of the season came with one out against Willie Fraser (2-3). Dave Righetti (4-1) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings for the victory.
The Angels tied the score at 2 and finished Rick Rhoden in the eighth on Devon White's one-run homer.
Before the game, the Angels announced the signing of right-handed reliever Greg Minton, who was released last week by the San Francisco Giants. Minton, 35, was 1-0 with a 3.47 ERA in 15 appearances.
Brewers 14, Royals 3:
Glenn Braggs drove in four runs and Cecil Cooper and Rob Deer homered against Kansas City as Milwaukee, at home, won its fourth straight.
Braggs had a two-out, two-run single in the first off Bud Black (2-2) and a bases-loaded single in a three-run sixth off reliever Rick Anderson. Black left the game with one out in the fourth with a sore right knee, which forced him to miss his previous start.
The victory went to Chuck Crim (3-1) in his first big league start.
Red Sox 6, Twins 5:
Bill Buckner's two-run single with two out in the ninth gave Boston the victory over visiting Minnesota.
Wade Boggs started the rally with a single off Jeff Reardon (2-4). After Jim Rice struck out, Mike Greenwell doubled. Dwight Evans fouled out before Buckner's drive made a winner of Calvin Schiraldi (3-3), whose wild pitch in the eighth had given the Twins a 5-4 lead.
Boston had a 4-0 after four innings; Minnesota's Juan Berenguer walked nine in 3 2/3 innings.
White Sox 15, Rangers 5:
Greg Walker hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, leading a five-homer assault that propelled Chicago to the victory in Arlington, Tex.
Walker was three for three with two walks. Harold Baines, Jerry Royster, Ken Williams and Ron Karkovice also homered for Chicago, which has 21 homers in its last eight games.
Bill Long (2-1) won despite allowing 13 hits and five runs in 7 2/3 innings.