BALTIMORE, AUG. 24 -- An evening that was supposed to belong to rookie Anthony Telford became a late-night study in contrasts for the Baltimore Orioles' two most solid cornerstones. One suffered a rare failure, but the other compensated.
Telford's second big-league start was but a distant memory by the time Cal Ripken's 11th-inning sacrifice fly atoned for Gregg Olson's blown save and provided a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians before 32,053 at Memorial Stadium.
Ripken's third RBI of the night came just minutes before midnight ended his 30th birthday. He ended a rally that began when Colby Ward issued the 10th of 11 walks allowed by Cleveland pitching.
Joe Orsulak walked one out later, then pinch runner Steve Finley stole third. After Ripken fought off Ward's two-strike screwball and lofted a high fly to medium-deep right field, Finley slid in just ahead of Cory Snyder's on-target throw.
Ripken, who has 26 RBI in his last 29 games, deflected credit toward Finley and Manager Frank Robinson for the crucial stolen base, called for by Robinson on a 1-1 pitch. "That's what did it," Ripken said. "I don't think he could've scored from second on that one."
The Orioles took a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning, but Olson served a leadoff home run to pinch hitter Carlos Baerga. It was the second straight Memorial Stadium appearance in which Olson yielded a homer, that after going the first 59 outings and 71 2/3 innings of his career here without yielding any.
Baerga's homer was more debilitating than the one by Oakland's Mark McGwire Sunday. Baerga is a utility man hitting .220.
It was Olson's third blown save in 32 chances this season, the second one here. He had converted 14 straight since June 23, and this was just the eighth of his 49 games in which he gave up a run. But he regrouped to work through the 10th without further damage; he still never has lost a game here.
"It was a fastball down the middle," Olson said afterward, obviously distressed. "In this league, nobody can get away with that."
The Orioles, beginning a string of 22 of 29 games at home, improved to 58-64 but remained 7 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They won for just the third time in their last nine games and evened their record here at 28-28.
They are 11-4 in extra-inning games, best in the majors. Joe Price (2-2) won with an inning in relief of Olson. Of the Indians' seven games against the Orioles this year, six have been decided in the last at-bat.
Telford was sharp but yielded three runs -- one unearned -- on six hits in five innings and 97 pitches of hard work.
He had a tough debut to follow -- a seven-inning, one-hit dismantling of the Athletics. He was given a 3-0 lead tonight, but handed it back. "I pitched better this time, no doubt," he said. "I just didn't get the same breaks."
The Orioles took a 2-0 lead off Mike Walker in the third. Bill Ripken led off with the first of his three hits, a line-drive double into the right field corner. Brady Anderson beat out a bunt, then Cal Ripken scored them both by turning a low breaking ball into a homely but effective double to right.
An inning later Bill Ripken's single made it 3-0. Mike Devereaux tried to follow Mickey Tettleton home on the hit but was out on a play that had the crowd enraged at umpire John Shulock.
Telford gave back two-thirds of the lead in the fifth with the help of a trio of misplays, one of them his. Left fielder Anderson slipped on the soggy turf on Sandy Alomar's double to begin the inning. First baseman Sam Horn dropped Felix Fermin's liner but recovered in time. But Telford wasn't covering.
Those sins hurt, as Jerry Browne scored Alomar with a single to right and Dion James delivered Fermin on a groundout.
Cleveland finished Telford and tied the game at 3 in the sixth, but the Orioles reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Craig Worthington singled to end a zero-for-12 rut, and Bill Ripken sent a bouncer that third baseman Brook Jacoby couldn't grab.
Manager John McNamara summoned Efrain Valdez, who walked Anderson and Orsulak to force in the go-ahead run.
"None of our guys could throw strikes," McNamara complained later. "It's simple. If you can't do that, you can't win."