- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

BALTIMORE It sounds like a country music band: C.J. & the Good Ol' Boys. Instead, it describes the players who led the Baltimore Orioles to their second straight win.

Catcher Charles Johnson hit a three-run homer to support strong performances from pitchers Pat Rapp and Buddy Groom and first baseman Will Clark three of the Orioles with the twangiest of accents to lead the Orioles to a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in the finale of their season-opening series Thursday night at Camden Yards.

With the bullpen depleted because of the loss of closer Mike Timlin with a pulled abdominal muscle, the Orioles could ill afford to have turn to their relievers too early and Rapp came through. A slow-talking Louisianan making his Orioles debut, Rapp responded with six strong innings before giving way to Groom.

A native of the bustling metropolis of Red Oak, Texas, Groom pitched three shutout innings to earn his first save since being signed by the Orioles in the off-season.

Offensively, it was Johnson and Clark who did the bulk of the damage for the Orioles (2-1).

After being plagued by injuries last season, Clark, another Louisiana native whose favorite attire is hunting fatigues, has gotten off to a torrid start. After going 3-for-4 Thursday night, he's 6-for-9 this season with three walks and five runs scored.

Johnson, who has been known more for his defense in his career, hit his third homer two nights.

The Orioles wasted little time taking advantage of the struggles of pitcher Charles Nagy, who has fallen from the first to the third spot in the Indians' rotation in less than a year.

Nagy walked Delino DeShields with one out in the first. After taking third on a single by B.J. Surhoff, DeShields hustled home on Albert Belle's foul popup caught by second baseman Roberto Alomar down the right-field line.

Throughout his career, Rapp has always been undone by walks, and that was the case in the second. One-out walks to Richie Sexson and David Justice proved fatal as each came home on RBI singles by Travis Fryman and Sandy Alomar to put the Indians ahead 2-1.

The Orioles tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Cal Ripken led off with a walk, advanced to third on a double by Clark and scored on a grounder from Mike Bordick.

Rapp walked himself into another jam in the fifth when he sandwiched a pair of walks around an infield hit by Kenny Lofton to load the bases with no outs. But Rapp, taking advantage of a wide strike zone, struck out Alomar and then fielded a Manny Ramirez grounder to start a 1-2-3 double play.

Other than that, Rapp was solid through six innings, allowing five hits and five walks before running off the field pumping his fist and giving a series of good ol' country screams.

Ripken led off the sixth with the 2,993rd hit of his career, a low line drive that bounced off third base and gave Travis Fryman no chance. After a single by Clark, Johnson stepped to the plane for an encore performance of the previous evening on which he hit a pair of home runs and drove in five.

Johnson drove a 1-1 pitch from the tiring Nagy into the bullpen behind center field to give the Orioles a 5-2 lead.

Bordick followed with a solo homer to make it 6-2 and finish Nagy.

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