Cal Ripken sure knows how to perform during a celebration on his behalf.
Ripken homered on the night he tied Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 successive games. He homered again when he broke the mark one night later on Sept. 6, 1995.
This time, he broke open a scoreless game with a two-run, opposite-field bloop single in the sixth inning. He also had an infield single with the bases loaded in a five-run seventh.
"I think luck played a lot into it today," Ripken said."I got lucky and jammed the ball in right field and the other groundball had eyes and went to right spot of the field."
He admitted to having no special recipe for success on days in which he reaches regal milestones.
"If you had the secret, you'd use the same formula for every game," he said.
Ripken's record-setting streak began May 30, 1982, and is longer than the next 22 active streaks combined. Ben Grieve has Oakland's longest current consecutive games streak at 44.
"I guess you can say that he's in a league all by himself," Oakland manager Art Howe said."I don't see it happening again, not in any of our lifetimes."
On the night Ripken became baseball's all-time Iron Man, he capped a grand celebration that included an appearance by President Clinton with an impromptu victory lap.
This time, the ceremony was decidedly subdued. The crowd of 46,026 gave Ripken a standing ovation for two minutes as the scoreboard flashed the numbers 2-5-0-0 one at a time prior to the sixth inning. Ripken doffed his cap several times while standing at third base.
"It was eerie in a way. It took me back to a few years ago," he said."One side of me is embarrassed, the other side happy because I could relive moments from '95."
Ripken certainly didn't need a lavish ceremony to mark his latest milestone.
"Truthfully, I've gotten enough attention to last forever, or at least four or five lifetimes," he said before the game."Sometimes, you get a little embarrassed if you get too much attention."
But all eyes were focused on him in the sixth. After Joe Carter led off with a single off Jimmy Haynes (1-1) and Rafael Palmeiro doubled. Ripken delivered a blooper on a 1-1 pitch, and Baltimore went on to win for only the third time in 10 games.
"He threw a high fastball that jamed me to death," Ripken said."I was really lucky to get the ball out of the infield. Sometimes luck plays a pretty important role in this game, and this was one of those times."
The Orioles ended all doubt with a seventh inning that included a two-run single by pinch-hitter Eric Davis.
Baltimore starter Jimmy Key (3-1) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out four over seven shutout inning in improving to 7-0 against Oakland in 10 starts since Sept. 21, 1991. His ERA in that span is 1.69.
"Everyone in here is aware of Cal's streak and what he has achieved," Key said."But my focus today was on beating the Oakland A's."
Orioles left fielder B.J. Surhoff opened the game by making a leaping catch at the wall to rob Rickey Henderson of a home run. That was the closest either team came to scoring until the fifth, when Ryan Christenson struck out with two outs and a runner on third.
Notes: It was only the third time in 21 games that Oakland never held the lead.... Baltimore executed an unusual double play in the third. After a flyout, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro ended up with the ball and tagged out Henderson in a variation of the hidden-ball trick.... Ripken has reached in 18 of 22 games.
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