MILWAUKEE -- Time appears to be running out on Jose Bautista. For the fourth straight time this young season, the righthanded reliever was ineffective yesterday, giving up Robin Yount's game-winning home run in the 4-3 loss to the Brewers.
Bautista relieved lefthander Mike Flanagan in the 11th inning with righthanded hitters Paul Molitor and Yount the scheduled hitters. Molitor just missed ending the game, sending a fly ball to leftfielder Joe Orsulak against the wall. Two pitches later Yount ended the suspense with a long blast to left-centerfield.
Manager Frank Robinson obviously preferred the righthanded matchup to pushing Flanagan beyond three innings, his longest out of the year. "At that point I probably could've gone on," said Flanagan. "I still felt pretty loose. But I haven't gone more than a couple [innings] for quite a while."
The Orioles have a couple of roster decisions to make, and one of them is imminent with the expected return of Ben McDonald. Bautista (0-1, 20.77 earned run average) had been been counted on to give the Orioles a strong arm in the vital long relief role, but he hasn't fit into the program and his spot on the roster is clearly in jeopardy.
* PITCHING PLUSES: Jeff Ballard gave the Orioles 6 1/3 strong innings in his third start yesterday, allowing only four hits and two earned runs (three overall). The last run crossed the plate when Gary Sheffield doubled off reliever Mark Williamson, who struck out Dante Bichette to end the seventh-inning threat.
Flanagan extended his scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings with three virtually flawless frames yesterday. He has allowed only two hits.
* JOHNSON PRIMED: Dave Johnson hasn't been told that he will start against Texas Sunday, but the righthander said it would be no problem coming back on only three days of rest. Especially since he had an early exit two nights ago against the Brewers.
"I'd be ready and it wouldn't bother me at all," Johnson said. "I'd like to pitch at home before the month is over."
* THIS 'N THAT: The Orioles (3-5) finished the two-city road trip with a 3-3 record. After taking an early 3-0 lead, they had only one hit after the third inning in yesterday's loss.
Sam Horn's two-run single enabled him to tie Cal Ripken for the club's RBI leadership (nine).
Psst -- don't tell anybody, but going back to last year Ripken has gone 38 straight games at shortstop without an error. He's made four in his last 222 games.
Bob Melvin played for the first time since Opening Day yesterday and had one single in four at-bats. He struck out the other three times, making it six K's in two games.
Milwaukee manager Tom Treblehorn was crucified for a pitching move in the first game of the series (bringing in righthander Edwin Nunez to face Horn), but he got even yesterday. His quick hook for starter Mark Knudson in the third inning, with the score 3-0, was the turning point of the game. Julio Machado, Darren Holmes and Nunez (1-0) shut the Orioles down the rest of the way.