A month ago, Cal Ripken couldn't help but wonder if his career might be over. Now, he looks like he's good for another 2,600 games.
Ripken had a career-high six hits, including two homers, and drove in six runs as Baltimore Orioles scored the most runs in franchise history, beating the Atlanta Braves, 22-1, Sunday night at Atlanta.
"It's kind of nice at 38 to have a first in your career," Ripken said. "It's very difficult to put together three hits in a game. To have a night go like this is very special, whether you're 38 or 21."
Ripken was batting .179 when he went on the disabled list for the first time in his career April 18, suffering from back pain and grieving about the death of his father.
"You always have doubts when you're going through a new experience," the 16-time All-Star admitted. "I didn't know how it was going to turn out."
He is batting .367 since his return to the lineup May 13, raising his season average to .328. Sunday night's performance lifted his average by 30 points.
"With the benefit of hindsight, the DL was good for me," Ripken said. "I needed to heal. I needed to get sound. After losing my father, I needed to heal mentally too. I came back with a little sharper focus. I'm enjoying the results."
Will Clark drove in five runs with a homer and three doubles, joining Ripken to lead a 25-hit pummeling of John Smoltz and the team with the second-lowest earned-run average in the majors.
The Orioles had not scored more than 19 runs in a game since moving from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954. The Browns set the previous franchise record with 20 runs against Detroit on Aug. 18, 1951.
The Braves yielded their most runs since a 23-8 loss to San Francisco on June 8, 1990. It was the most lopsided defeat since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966 and fell just short of the most lopsided loss in team history--Boston's 26-3 loss to Cincinnati on June 4, 1911.
Florida 8, New York Yankees 2--Rookie Bruce Aven hit two homers and drove in four runs to help Alex Fernandez earn his first victory since opening day at Miami.
Fernandez (2-3) gave up five hits and two runs, one earned, lowering his ERA to 2.44. He also drove in two runs with two singles.
Aven, claimed off waivers from Cleveland last October, also drove in a run and was four for five. He leads the Marlins with 33 RBIs in just 104 at-bats and is hitting .375.
Chicago White Sox 6, Chicago Cubs 4--Buy the ear plugs now, Cub fans. For the next month, the White Sox and their fans will be bragging and trash talking like they own the city. Which, in baseball terms, they probably do.
Mike Caruso hit his first homer of the season and Ray Durham had four hits for a second game in a rowas the White Sox beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, sweeping their crosstown rivals in a game delayed more than three hours by rain. The White Sox also won a game shortened by rain Friday.
Durham was almost unstoppable, going nine for 14 in the series. He led off the seventh with a walk and took second when Frank Thomas singled. He scored on a single by Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Lee tied the game at 4-4 with another single.
With two outs in the eighth, Durham tripled. That brought up Caruso, who homered into the first row of bleachers in right field for a 6-4 lead.
Detroit 3, St. Louis 1--Pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto hit a two-run homer off Ricky Bottalico in the 10th inning at St. Louis.
Deivi Cruz singled with one out before Catalanotto hit a 2-and-2 pitch over the right-field wall. Catalanotto is six for 12 with five RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season.
Todd Jones blew his second save in 12 chances when he gave up a tying home run to Eli Marrero in the ninth. Tiger starter Justin Thompson pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings and had eight strikeouts. Doug Brocail got the final two outs for his first save since June 2, 1997.
Cleveland 7, Cincinnati 3--Dave Burba beat his former team again, leading the Indians to a three-game sweep of the Reds.
It was the first sweep in three series between the intrastate rivals. The Indians have won the last five games--all at Cincinnati--for a 6-3 advantage and improved to a season-high 20 games over .500 (40-20).
Burba (6-2) went six innings, giving up three runs and seven hits.
San Francisco 8, Seattle 4--J.T. Snow hit a go-ahead, two-run single during a five-run eighth inning as the Giants rallied from a two-run deficit at Seattle.
Mariner starter John Halama left after six innings leading, 4-2, but Jose Paniagua (3-6) and Jose Mesa couldn't protect it.
New York Mets 5, Boston 4--Benny Agbayani hit another home run that ignited the Mets and the crowd of 46,473 at Shea Stadium.
Brian McRae also homered for the Mets, and Mike Piazza extended his hitting streak to 17 games, helping Orel Hershiser (6-5) earn his 196th career victory.
It was the sixth win for the Mets in seven games. The Red Sox lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Colorado 4, Texas 2--Kurt Abbott hit a three-run homer and Bobby Jones pitched 6 1/3 effective innings to lead the Rockies at Arlington, Texas.
Abbott keyed a four-run third inning to back Jones (2-5), who gave up consecutive homers to Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro in the fourth to narrow Colorado's lead to 4-2. Otherwise, Jones shut down the Rangers' potent lineup. He gave up two runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked three.
Minnesota at Milwaukee, rain--As the Brewers and Twins watched the rain fall at County Stadium, postponing the finale of their three-game interleague series, they couldn't help but see Miller Park rising high above the outfield bleachers. The new ballpark, which opens next April, will have a retractable roof.
"It will be nice to have a dome. You come to play, and you know you're going to play," Milwaukee Manager Phil Garner said.