CHICAGO, JULY 8 -- The Baltimore Orioles bade farewell to Comiskey Park and the first half of the season today by defeating the Chicago White Sox, 8-6, in 11 innings on Mike Devereaux's two-out, two-run double off relief ace Bobby Thigpen.
The result sends the Orioles into the all-star break with back-to-back victories for only the second time since June 9. Their most recent two-game streak came at the start of this road trip, which they finished with a 5-4 record.
Their 37-45 overall record is a far cry from their 48-37 the first half of last season, but they will begin the second half this season with positive hopes despite being fifth in the AL East, nine games behind first-place Boston.
That's not quite what Manager Frank Robinson had in mind two weeks ago when he said the Orioles would be in good shape if they could take three or four games off the 9 1/2-game deficit they were facing after a 1-5 road trip to Cleveland and Boston ended with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox. On the other hand, it's better than being 11 1/2 games back -- what they were when they began this road trip.
However, for them to get back in the race, such players as Devereaux must keep producing. His game-winning hit brought a somewhat unexpected conclusion to a wild inning.
Thigpen, who leads the AL with 27 saves, began his third inning of work by walking Steve Finley. Craig Worthington chopped a bunt back to Thigpen, who wheeled toward second but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. His throw to second was late. Rene Gonzales ran for Worthington.
Bill Ripken, whose AL-leading 11th sacrifice bunt helped set up a three-run fifth that provided a 4-2 lead, also bunted. It was better than Worthington's, but Thigpen made a better play. He threw out Finley at third.
Brad Komminsk, two for his previous 32, singled to right. Third base coach Cal Ripken sent Gonzales home, but Sammy Sosa easily threw him out while Bill Ripken went to third.
That brought up Devereaux, who looked overmatched striking out against Thigpen in the ninth. But Thigpen hung an 0-1 slider, and Devereaux hit it off the left-center field wall.
"It looked like a BP fastball," Devereaux said. "I just wanted to put the barrel on it like I've been working on. . . . It's a very nice way to say goodbye" to 80-year-old Comiskey, which will be replaced by a new ballpark being built across the street. The Orioles will not visit the majors' oldest park again unless they meet the White Sox in the playoffs.
Mark Williamson (5-1) got the victory. He allowed one hit in three innings. Gregg Olson pitched one inning for his 17th save.
"It makes for a good break," Robinson said. "We'll be able to enjoy the break and come back with a positiv feeling."
Devereaux sure will. For the game today, he was two for five with three RBI. That made him six for 14 in this series and eight for his last 23. His batting average is a season-best .221.
He has shown the speed and defensive skills to be a major league center fielder, but poor hitting and a pulled hamstring made him a microcosm of Robinson's problems with finding a winning lineup. Robinson said before today's game he would love to have a basic everyday lineup he could "fine-tune" when necessary, but inconsistent offense and injuries have forced him to juggle the lineup and forced General Manager Roland Hemond to do the same with the roster.
"We want to have him in the lineup every day," Robinson said.
He feels the same way about first baseman Randy Milligan. Seven for 42 coming into today's game, he went two for five with three RBI, including his 15th home run and a game-tying two-run double with two out in the seventh inning. It was the first multi-hit game since June 20 for Milligan, who now has a single-season career-best 47 RBI -- two more than he had all of last season.
"You have peaks and valleys," said Milligan, who was one the AL's hottest hitters in June. "I'm starting to level off, but now it's time to reach another peak."
In the seventh, reliever Scott Radinsky hit leadoff batter Worthington with a pitch. He was replaced by Barry Jones, who allowed a single to the first batter he faced -- Bill Ripken, who has six hits in his last 12 at-bats and 10 in 26.
Komminsk popped up a bunt, but it went over Jones's head. He tried a barehand catch but dropped the ball. Worthington, frozen at second, was retired at third while Ripken hustled to second. With Devereaux at the plate, Ripken stole third. Jones walked Devereaux, loading the bases for Joe Orsulak, who had hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
Orsulak grounded to first baseman Carlos Martinez, who threw out Ripken at the plate.
Milligan then hit an 0-1 pitch to center. It sailed over Lance Johnson, then bounced over the fence. It was Baltimore's first hit in its last 16 at-bats with the bases loaded, dating to a hit by Milligan off Boston's Roger Clemens June 18.
"I almost asked for a day off," said Milligan, who was hitless in five at-bats Saturday night. "I didn't feel like I was helping the club any."
Even though the White Sox are out of first place, they equaled the greatest turnaround in the majors from one all-star game to the next, improving their record by 21 games, which ties the 1989 Orioles. Last year at the break, Chicago was 32-56. This year, 48-30.
For Baltimore, it was an AL leading 44th game decided by one or two runs.