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Mussina, O's Fly By Phillies


Great pitching. Terrific defense. A perfect job by the bullpen.

It's not often the Baltimore Orioles get all that in one night.

Mike Mussina struck out 12 in seven innings, Will Clark and Jerry Hairston homered and the Orioles ended their four-game losing streak with an 8-4 victory Saturday night over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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  • Mussina also got his third hit of the season and drove in his fourth run a much bigger deal in the Orioles' clubhouse than all his dazzling strikeouts.

    "We talked a lot more about the one hit than the 12 strikeouts," said Mussina, who allowed six hits, walked two and retired his last seven batters before leaving after the seventh. "I just don't do it that often."

    The Orioles don't win that often, either. With a stellar performance from Mussina (11-4), and with Clark and Brady Anderson back in the lineup after resting injuries, the Orioles hope this is something to build on. They had lost 14 of 16 to fall a season-low 17 games below .500.

    "That's probably the understatement of the week," Clark said when asked if it was a relief.

    Mussina survived a four-run fifth inning and dazzled the Phillies, many of them who had never seen him before, with his wide assortment of pitches. He won an All-Star matchup against Paul Byrd (11-5), who allowed six runs five earned and nine hits in five innings.

    Mussina struck out the side in the fourth, giving him nine Ks. He got Scott Rolen on a tailing fastball, Rico Brogna on a big-bending curve and All-Star Mike Lieberthal on a nasty slider.

    His regular season career-high is 14, and Mussina struck out 15 in Game 3 of the 1997 AL championship series against Cleveland.

    Mussina said the mound at Veterans Stadium, regarded by many visiting pitchers as one of the highest and steepest around, deserved some of the credit. Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Mussina it was a regulation mound.

    "I told him he must have short turf," Mussina joked.

    Arthur Rhodes and Mike Timlin each pitched a 1-2-3 inning, a rare sucess for the Orioles' struggling bullpen.

    "That mound is awesome," Timlin said. "That's what we need."

    "The mound's high, and I'm glad it is," Orioles manager Ray Miller said. "I think that's how you save arms. With all the money we spend on pitchers, I think baseball needs to get smart and make all the mounds like that."

    Clark, who had been sitting out with a swollen right knee, told Miller before the game that he wanted to play. Besides the homer, Clark made two great defensive plays scooping a throw from Cal Ripken and charging a grounder by Brogna and making a perfect toss to Mussina in the fifth.

    "I had been giving him the green light for about four or five days," said Clark, who hit his seventh homer in the second to make it 1-0. "He was being very careful, shall we say."

    Hairston's three-run homer capped a four-run fifth against Byrd that gave the Orioles a 6-0 lead seemingly insurmountable when Mussina is locked in.

    "I took a 6-0 lead and helped make it 6-4," said Mussina, who gave up all four runs in the fifth.

    Rob Ducey, one of only four Phillies who had faced Mussina, hit a three-run homer to cap the rally and make it 6-4. But those who hadn't seen Mussina before were baffled. Bobby Abreu struck out four times, three against Mussina.

    "There's not much you can do with him," Abreu said.

    Marlon Anderson sparked Philadelphia's four-run fifth with a bunt single. Alex Arias walked, and pinch-hitter Domingo Cedeno had an RBI single in his first at-bat for the Phillies to make it 6-1 before Ducey's three-run homer.

    Baltimore scored two unearned runs in the eighth on pinch-hitter Jeff Conine's RBI single and Cal Ripken's RBI double off Joe Grahe.

    Notes:

  • With a crowd of 32,300, the Phillies' season attendance reached 1,005,863. It's the earliest they've drawn 1 million since 1996.
  • A fan in an Orioles jersey waved this sign behind the dugout: "Petition for Belle to waive his no-trade clause." It was a reference to Belle's recent unsuccessful petition to boycott an exhibition game at Triple-A Rochester.
  • Mussina, a left-handed batter who homered in batting practice, was 1-for-4 and is 3-for-11 this season.
  • Anderson probably got the strangest stolen base of his career in the third. Arias' glove was waiting for Anderson, but the glove came off and was pinned between Anderson's foot and the base. Anderson lifted his foot, placed his other one on the bag and was called safe by umpire Mark Hirschbeck.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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