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O's Drop Another To Toronto

For Ed Sprague and Pat Hentgen, patience isn't only a virtue. It's a necessity.

Sprague hit two homers and Hentgen pitched seven gritty innings to earn his first win since May 25 as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 Sunday.

Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado also homered to help the Blue Jays split a four-game series that featured 54 runs and 105 hits.

Sprague went 3-for-3 with a walk and drove in a season-high four runs, giving him 400 RBIs for his career. It was his second straight three-hit game since he spoke with Hentgen about his ongoing problems at the plate.

"I talked to Pat a little bit Friday night about how sometimes I have a tendency to get a little overaggressive and how I need more patience," Sprague said. "In the last two days I've tried to be more patient, and it paid off."

Sprague hit a two-run homer off Sidney Ponson in the second inning and added a solo shot of Armando Benitez in the eighth on an 0-2 count. It was his first multi-homer game of the season and the sixth of his career.

Toronto manager Tim Johnson spoke with Sprague last week about the need for the third baseman to play up to his potential.

"It's a very important year for him, the last year on his contract," Johnson said. "He knows what he has to do."

Hentgen (8-4) was 0-1 in his previous four starts. The right-hander finally got victory No. 8 on his fifth try, patiently working out of several jams with the aid of a defense that turned three double plays.

"There's no question the defense was outstanding today," he said. "I'm a pitcher who needs to get into a rhythm, and I struggled a little early."

Hentgen threw 128 pitches, allowing three runs on eight hits and walking four. He did not have a 1-2-3 inning, yet he never lost his cool.

"He made the right pitch when he needed to," Baltimore's Roberto Alomar said.

Randy Myers got one out for his 19th save, including three against the Orioles, the team he left in the offseason.

Harold Baines homered for the Orioles, who stranded 10 runners. Baltimore was vying for a third straight win for the first time since June 1-3.

"We've been playing fairly well the whole month but we're just a little bit short pitching-wise," manager Ray Miller said. "When our starter gets into the sixth inning we do really well."

Ponson (1-5) allowed three homers and five earned runs in five innings.

The rookie blanked the New York Yankees on two hits in 6 2-3 innings in his previous start, but it quickly became evident that he would not come up with a suitable encore.

Green, the second batter of the game, hit a 3-2 pitch over the scoreboard in right. Toronto made it 3-0 when Sprague drove a fastball into the lft-field seats with a runner on.

Baines connected on a 3-0 pitch to make it 3-1 in the third, his first homer in 57 at-bats since May 29. Baltimore added a run in the fourth on an RBI double by Brady Anderson.

Mike Bordick singled in the Orioles' final run in the sixth.

Toronto went up 4-2 when Sprague led off the fifth inning with a single and scored on a two-out single by Green. Delgado homered on the first pitch in the sixth and Sprague added a sacrifice fly for a 6-2 lead.

Notes: Delgado's first homer was measured at 415 feet and was the 18th in the seven-year history of Camden Yards to reach Eutaw Street. ... Toronto, last in the AL in double plays, turned three. ... Baines went 2-for-3 and was 10-for-17 in the series. ... Baltimore pitchers have yielded 100 homers in 75 games. ... The Orioles are 0-9 when allowing an unearned run.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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