Broiling heat? No problem. A tough Cleveland lineup?

By David Ginsburg Associated Press Published:

Broiling heat? No problem.

A tough Cleveland lineup? Bring it on.

Whenever Scott Erickson walks to the mound to start a game, he's got one goal in mind _ to finish it. And he has more times this season than anyone in the American League.

Erickson pitched a seven-hitter for his career-best ninth complete game of the season and the Baltimore Orioles took advantage of eight walks and a balk to beat the Indians 6-3 Saturday.

Erickson leads the AL with 29 starts and 201 2/3 innings. He threw 125 pitches against the Indians in 92-degree heat and shrugged off a wicked line drive by Omar Vizquel that bounded off his right shin.

"You don't dare ask him how he feels," Baltimore manager Ray Miller said. "I asked him if it was his shin or leg, and he said, 'It hit nothing."'

Erickson (14-9) struck out five and walked four. The right-hander has won his last three starts and is 6-2 in his last nine appearances.

"My goal is to get 27 outs. I'm happy I was able to do it today," he said. "The complete game is nice _ you always try to help out the bullpen a little, give them a blow so they'll be ready tomorrow."

But what about the heat?

"I felt great. The heat is more mental than anything," Erickson said.

And the line drive?

"That didn't hurt at all," he said. "It wasn't much of anything."

Cal Ripken homered for the Orioles, who snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 31-10 since the All-Star break. Baltimore has not lost three straight since July 3-5.

Ripken, who knows a thing or two about playing nine innings, credited the victory to Erickson's durability.

"He's a horse. Everyone knows he's going to give you innings," Ripken said. "It seemed like he struggled today, but he keeps going at it and before you know it he has a complete game."

Manny Ramirez hit his 30th homer for Cleveland, which fell to 8-13 in August.

Indians starter Bartolo Colon (13-7) allowed only five hits in 5 1/3 innings, but issued six walks in his second straight game. Three of those walks turned into runs.

"My mechanics were off today," he said. "I was feeling the strongest I've felt in a long time. I feel a little frustrated because I was so strong but it didn't help."

Reliever Doug Jones walked two and balked in the go-ahead run in the sixth. After Colon walked the first two batters and gave up a one-out single to Mike Bordick to load the bases, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove summoned Jones.

Roberto Alomar hit a sacrifice fly to deep center that moved up all the runners. Jones then followed an intentional walk to B.J. Surhoff with a balk after he inadvertently juggled the ball in his glove while in the stretch.

"Jonesey hit the edge of his glove with the ball bringing it back into his glove, and (umpire) Tim Tschida called it a balk," Hargrove said. "It's one of those things that happens, but you never like to see it happen to you."

After Rafael Palmeiro opened the seventh with a single, Ripken hit his 11th homer on an 0-2 pitch.

Erickson struck out Travis Fryman and David Justice in the eighth after the Indians put runners on second and third.

"I thought he was pretty tough today," Cleveland's Brian Giles said. "He was mixing the ball in and out, but threw in a little more than usual. He's a competitor."

The Orioles opened the scoring in the third when Alomar walked, took second on a groundout and scored on a single by Eric Davis, who has hit in 36 of 39 games since the break.

Ramirez made it 1-1 in the fourth with a drive to dead center estimated at 424 feet.

Baltimore regained the lead in its half when Mike Bordick doubled in Willie Greene with a two-out liner to left-center.

Cleveland took the lead for the first time with two runs in the sixth. Torey Lovullo and Giles hit successive doubles before Justice made it 3-2 by grounding a two-out RBI single to center.

Notes: Ripken, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games, scored his

1,500th career run. ... Baltimore catcher Lenny Webster snapped an 0-for-

14 skid with a second-inning single. He had two hits after going in a 6-

for-50 in his previous seven games. ... The Orioles tied the season

series 5-5; the deciding game will be played Sunday. ... Sandy Alomar

went 0-for-3 against Erickson and is 4-for-29 (.138) lifetime against

him.

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