- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2000


BALTIMORE Two of the mysteries that have confounded the Baltimore Orioles were solved, at least temporarily, yesterday at Camden Yards.

Ace Mike Mussina finally got some runs to support another strong outing. His relief came largely because the struggling Will Clark showed signs of breaking out of his doldrums at the plate and delivered his first home run of an otherwise unproductive season.

The result, a 7-2 Orioles win over the Philadelphia Phillies, was seen as a glimmer of hope on a scorching afternoon before a sellout crowd of 47,540. Baltimore won a series for the first time in its last five tries, and captured just its second series over its past 11.

"You can't be too far behind come July because you are going to run out of time to make everything up," said Jeff Conine, who along with Mike Bordick and Clark hit home runs for the Orioles. "The rest of this month we really need to put a bunch of wins together and climb back into it."

The Orioles (26-34) pulled to within eight games of .500 by winning the final two games of a three game set from Philadelphia (23-37). They still have six games left in this homestand.

Mussina (4-6) won his third straight decision, allowing just five hits over eight innings and lowered his ERA to 3.73. And, for a change, the Orioles' bats responded for him.

Clark laced a 2-1 fastball into the right-center field bleachers in the second inning off Andy Ashby (2-7) to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Conine had led off the inning with a single to left.

It was Clark's first home run since July 24, 1999. The first baseman has slumped since coming off the disabled list on May 18, but feels that, with the help of batting coach Terry Crowley, he is finally getting his timing back. He is batting .189 since his return from a pulled hamstring, but hit the ball particularly hard against the Phillies.

"In the last three games, I've got a home run and five or six warning track balls," said Clark, 36, who hit .303 with 10 home runs in an injury plagued season last year when he played only 77 games. "It's coming along."

With the offense making a rare appearance for him, Mussina easily handled Philadelphia. After allowing a solo homer to Rob Ducey in the second inning, Mussina did not allow a hit from the fourth inning through the seventh.

"[Seven runs] is the most I have had this year," said Mussina, whose team had averaged three runs a game in his first 13 starts. "Those four runs late were big. They really hadn't been taken out of the game until then."

Baltimore built a 4-1 lead in the fifth when Albert Belle doubled off the left-field wall to drive in Brady Anderson, who led off with a single. Belle, who hit home runs in the first two games of the series, extended his hitting streak to 13 games. The slugger is hitting .449, with five homers and 12 RBI, during the streak.

The Orioles pushed the lead to 7-1 in the seventh. Bordick dropped what appeared to be a long flyball just inside the left-field foul pole for his 12th homer of the season. With two outs, B.J. Surhoff singled and Conine then homered to center on an 0-2 pitch. It was Conine's seventh home run of the season.

Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the first when Anderson, who led off with a double and went to third on Bordick's infield single, scored when Delino DeShields grounded into a fielder's choice.

Philadelphia's second run came in the eighth on Doug Glanville's sacrifice fly.

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