Cecil Fielder had a hunch Orioles pitcher Jeff Ballard would again throw him a fastball on the first pitch, and this time he was ready to pull the trigger.
Crack! Home run. It was only the fifth inning, but that, as it developed, was the Detroit Tigers' final run in their 4-3 win over the Orioles last night.
The home run put Fielder in a tie for the major-league lead with Minnesota's Chili Davis and Oakland's Jose Canseco at 19 and raised his RBI total to 62, highest in the majors. He drove in the Tigers' second run in the first inning with a single.
"The time before," Fielder said, referring to the second inning when he grounded out, "his first pitch was a fastball. He did it again, a fastball out over the plate. I hit it good; I knew it had a chance."
* GOOD THINGS MUST END: After going 17-for-39 during his nine-game hitting streak, Cal Ripken went 0-for-5 for the first time this year. His American League-leading average dipped to .348.
Ripken had scored at least one run in 10 straight games, one shy of the club record set by Frank Robinson in 1966. That streak also ended for Ripken.
Ripken came up for the final time with two aboard and one out i the ninth inning and the Orioles a run behind.
"It's not a good feeling seeing Ripken up there with the game on the line," Detroit manager Sparky Anderson said. "I kind of started laughing to myself.
"Ripken's the guy. He's Baltimore. Whenever he does well, the team does well. When he goes bad, the team goes bad. That's what happened tonight."
To make this rare miserable night worse, Ripken was charged with an error when he failed to come up with a ground ball on a difficult backhanded stab in the hole. It was his first error since he made a pair in John Oates' first game as manager May 24.
Only once in the last 32 years,since the Cubs' Ernie Banks had 23 home runs at the All-Star break in 1959, has a shortstop had more homers at this point in the season than Ripken, who has 18.
Boston's Rico Petrocelli had 23 after 74 games in 1969 en route to the league record for most by a shortstop (40). Banks set the major-league mark of 47 in 1958.
With his torrid start, Ripken has raised $42,066 for the Reading, Runs and Ripken program that provides funds for literacy programs in Baltimore. The money is raised through pledges based on his offensive statistics.
* MOOSE DRAWS COLLAR: Randy Milligan's career-high nine-game hitting streak ended when he went 0-for-3. His average rose from .237 to .280 during the streak, and now is at .277.
* FOUR FOR DEVEREAUX: After sitting out Monday night for the first time since May 24, Mike Devereaux returned with a bang. Entering the game 0-for-12 and 2-for-21, Devereaux had four singles in five trips, the third time in his career and second time this season he has had four hits.
* ON THE FARM: Rochester outfielder Chito Martinez was named the Orioles' minor-league Player of the Month based on his bountiful June (.362, nine home runs, 22 RBIs). Martinez is batting .325 and leads the Triple A International League with 18 homers.
* THIS 'N THAT: Of Orioles reliever Todd Frohwirth's 23 pitches after he relieved Ballard, 19 were strikes . . . Juan Bell is still looking for his first hit in 17 at-bats at Memorial Stadium after an 0-for-3 in relief of second baseman Bill Ripken . . . Orioles home attendance is 1,145,165, most in club history after 37 dates . . . On this date in 1954, Vern Stephens hit the first inside-the-park home run at the stadium off Detroit's Billy Hoeft, a two-run shot that propelled the Orioles to a 5-3 win.