BALTIMORE, SEPT. 21 -- With series against American League contenders Toronto and Boston completed, the Baltimore Orioles were forced Friday to commiserate with a fellow has-been, the Milwaukee Brewers. But Pete Harnsich rose above the relative meaninglessness of the game, yielding five hits over seven-plus innings to lead the Orioles to a 5-3 victory before 34,646 at Memorial Stadium.
Harnisch (11-11) allowed only one hit between the second and eighth innings and at one point retired 13 in a row. Gregg Olson got three outs for his 33rd save.
It was the second straight solid outing by Harnisch, who allowed three runs in eight innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays last Saturday. More important, the often-wild Harnisch has walked only two batters in those two starts.
"I wasn't overpowering by any means," Harnisch said. "But I was locating my fastball pretty well and had some good change-ups."
Harnisch, the only Orioles pitcher in the rotation since opening day, was nearly shelved for the season last week due to a tired arm.
"We talked about the possibility of taking the rest of the year off," he said. "Like I said, my stuff isn't overpowering, but I feel my stuff is good enough to get wins."
The Orioles (68-81) moved within a half-game of the fifth-place Brewers (69-81). Baltimore will attempt to pass Milwaukee Saturday, sending Dave Johnson to the mound against Kevin Brown, who will make his first major league start.
The Brewers -- who lead the AL in errors with 140 -- made two costly blunders in a three-run fifth inning, costing starter Ron Robinson (11-4) a chance to tie a club record with his eighth straight win.
Leading by 2-1, the Orioles had Chris Hoiles on second and Bill Ripken on first with one out when Steve Finley grounded hard to second base. Paul Molitor tried to go to second for the force, but threw the ball into left field. Hoiles and Ripken scored, the latter when catcher B.J. Surhoff dropped Greg Vaughn's throw for an error.
After Brady Anderson was walked, Cal Ripken lifted a fly to center field. Finley tagged at third and Mike Felder's throw home was late, but Surhoff caught Anderson in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.
"We turned a potential no-run rally into a three-run rally," said Brewers Manager Tom Trebelhorn. "We didn't score when we should have and gave up some when we shouldn't have."
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, due to a concentration lapse by Finley. With Dave Parker on second, Darryl Hamilton slapped a single to right. It appeared Parker would stop at third, but when Finley made a lazy toss back to the infield, Parker continued on home.
The Orioles took the lead in the third. Hoiles scored on a double to left-center by Bill Ripken, who came in on Anderson's sacrifice fly.
Harnisch was pulled after Felder and Surhoff began the eighth with singles, but Jose Bautista and Jeff Ballard worked out of trouble.
Olson replaced Ballard after Vaughn led off the ninth with his 15th home run, and he allowed singles to pinch hitter Rob Deer and Jim Gantner. Bill Spiers cut the lead to 5-3 with a sacrifice fly, but Olson retired Felder and Surhoff to end the game.
Orioles Notes: Deer received 16 stitches at Mount Sinai Hospital Thursday after a scuffle at a Brewers' team party at Baltimore's Mount Washington Tavern. Deer, batting .208 with 27 home runs and 67 runs batted in, cut his arm on a metal railing after scuffling with an unidentified patron.
The scuffle began when a man allegedly disrupted the private party. He allegedly insulted the players, provoking the fight, which also involved other Brewers.