BALTIMORE, JUNE 18 -- The Baltimore Orioles tonight salvaged a day that had the potential to be disastrous with perhaps as gratifying a victory as they've had all season.
The Orioles provided Boston Red Sox ace Roger Clemens with his worst pounding in nearly two years, sending him to the showers after 1 2/3 shell-shocking innings. The final tally of Baltimore's ambush was 11 hits off three pitchers and a 7-2 victory before 31,582 at Memorial Stadium -- breaking the Orioles' season-high five-game losing streak.
Baltimore got seven runs and nine hits in the first three innings, jumping to a 7-1 lead. The second-inning knockout of Clemens was his quickest since a 1 1/3-inning stint against Detroit in August 1988. (He left a game last season in the first inning with an injury.)
Soon after his departure, Clemens (11-3) jogged on the streets outside the stadium -- a habit that shows up on his occasional frustrating days.
"I just couldn't get my head into things," said Clemens, who lost for the first time since May 4. "My concentration wasn't there. I was blase. . . . When it was raining this afternoon, I couldn't remember who I was pitching against. I thought it was the Blue Jays."
The Orioles leave town with some of the sting from a mostly troubling home stand relieved. Not forgotten, but at least mitigated, are the six losses in 10 home games and the fact that outfielder Phil Bradley (strained lower back) is not making the trip and pitcher Bob Milacki is in questionable health.
It was enough to have Orioles Manager Frank Robinson crying for some relief before game time. He got it quickly.
Randy Milligan produced a two-run single off Clemens in the second inning, turning a 2-1 game into 4-1 and giving the first baseman 17 RBI in his last 12 games. Tim Hulett provided his first three hits of the season, and Joe Orsulak and Bill Ripken added two apiece.
The beneficiary of the batting prosperity was Orioles starter Dave Johnson, who gave up nine hits to toss a laborious-but-effective complete game and improve to 6-4. He pitched Baltimore's first complete game in a month and ended a string of shaky outings by Orioles starters, who had lasted only 20 innings during the club's five-game skid.
Mike Devereaux got Johnson out of trouble with a running catch of Wade Boggs's two-on, two-out line drive in the second, and Johnson took it from there.
After the second, he allowed only Ellis Burks's ninth homer that made it 7-2 in the fourth. Johnson was behind in the count and had runners on base more often than not, but he survived as both teams seemed primarily interested in speeding along this get-away day through the latter stages.
"The key is we jumped out on top," said Johnson, who has stopped four losing streaks of two games or more this season. "Everyone was saying there's no way we can beat Roger Clemens, but he's going to have some bad days like everyone else and we were there to take advantage."
Clemens -- who entered the game with 11 victories in 13 decisions, a seven-game winning streak and a 1.71 earned run average in his eight previous starts -- never got comfortable. He's relied more on location and movement since arm problems robbed him of his eye-popping velocity for much of last season, but that precision was lacking tonight.
The Orioles collected seven hits and six runs off him before Boston Manager Joe Morgan summoned Jerry Reed to the mound. Two Red Sox errors and another misplay of his own contributed to Clemens's undoing.
"He just wasn't the same guy he usually is," Milligan said. "The sharpness wasn't there."
Baltimore jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Steve Finley singled, stole second and went to third when second baseman Jody Reed allowed Tony Pena's throw to skip past him into center field. Mickey Tettleton provided a run-scoring fly ball.
The Red Sox tied it in the second on Kevin Romine's RBI single, but the Orioles batted around off Clemens in the bottom of the inning, scoring five runs on five hits and being helped along by unsteady fielding.
Clemens walked Greg Walker to start the uprising, and Hulett followed with a solid single to center -- his first hit of the season. Bill Ripken tried to bunt the runners over, but Clemens double-clutched -- after looking to third base -- and threw too late to get Ripken at first.
Clemens struck out Finley, but shortstop Luis Rivera botched Devereaux's slow roller as he rushed to try and get a double play. That allowed Walker to score for a 2-1 lead, and Milligan followed with a two-run single to left for a 4-1 advantage.
Clemens got Tettleton looking for the second out, but Orsulak and Cal Ripken produced three runs more with back-to-back singles and Morgan was on his way out of the dugout.
That the Orioles rocked Clemens is not as shocking as it seems at first glance, for they have developed a habit of thriving off the league's top hurlers. Baltimore is 6-4 in its last 10 outings against former Cy Young award winners, and Clemens was 1-2 in his last four starts against Baltimore, with a no-decision on opening day last season, when the Orioles ended up with a victory to start magical 1989.
The Orioles seemed to believe they had recaptured that feeling tonight. "This is the way it was all last year," Milligan said. "We didn't let things get us down, and we came together and beat a tough pitcher when all the odds were against us. This feels good."