Mariners' 3 HRs off Ballard deal Orioles 5-1 loss Pitcher goes to 0-7 at home this year

July 21, 1991|By Kent Baker

The heat was on at muggy Memorial Stadium again last night, and this time the Seattle Mariners offense controlled the thermostat.

Jeff Ballard gave up three homers, keeping him winless at home this season, as the Baltimore Orioles lost, 5-1.

Ballard is 0-7 in eight starts here this year and still is searching for his first victory at Memorial Stadium in almost two years. His last home win as a starter was Sept. 20, 1989.

Henry Cotto, Jay Buhner and an unlikely source, Harold Reynolds, homered for the Mariners before 35,535 fans.

Orioles manager John Oates found little fault with Ballard's outing, which produced his third straight defeat to the Mariners this season.

"It seems like when he made the mistake, they hit it," said Oates. "But he didn't pitch that badly. You could tell by the number of ground balls they hit [14 ground-ball outs].

"It doesn't bother me that he hasn't won here, and I'm not going to bring it up. I don't want to put negative thoughts in his mind. If you look at the numbers, there's not a whole lot of difference between this year and 1989 [when Ballard was an 18-game winner].

"The difference is that year we scored six runs, and now we're scoring one and two. He's not pitching great and he's not pitching poorly. He's giving us a chance to win."

Seattle was tied for 11th in the league with 67 homers, and manager Jim Lefebvre called it a "good feeling" to get three. "It's something we've been lacking this year."

The only bright light in a game of wasted chances for the Orioles was another homer by Cal Ripken, who has set a team record with 10 straight 20-homer seasons. He previously shared it with Eddie Murray.

But Ripken did not connect off winner Bill Krueger until the sixth, and, by then, the Mariners were cruising with a 4-0 advantage. Ripken's homer off the overhang in left field knocked out Krueger, but the Mariners bullpen did its job.

"I saw that his pitches were coming up a little, and guys were starting to get good swings," Lefebvre said of Krueger. "With Jack [Mike Jackson] ready to go and the weather the way it is, I made a move. The bullpen was fresh, and it was a good time to use it."

Krueger, 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his past nine outings, was hittable, but the Orioles hit into three double plays and never had more than two singles in a row.

They received some tough breaks when potential hits by Leo Gomez were turned into outs by Mariners outfielders, the second when Buhner made a sliding catch of Gomez's looper to right field in the fourth.

Two men were on with one out at the time, and Randy Milligan was doubled up easily at second base.

"It looked like the ball was going to fall in, and a lot of times you just get caught in between," said Oates. "It was a judgment thing."

The Orioles also gave up a run in the seventh, when Ken Griffey Jr. prolonged a rundown long enough to allow Jeff Schaefer to score from third before the third out was made.

"The bottom line is we messed up the play," said Oates. "It just made it more difficult, physically and mentally, to come from four runs down than three."

Ballard, who was out of the locker room early after the game, has not allowed an inordinate number of homers this season (15), but was victimized by consecutive shots by Cotto and Reynolds in the fifth and a 430-foot blast by Buhner in the sixth.

Reynolds' was particularly galling. He has 13 career homers in almost 3,400 at-bats, and three of them have been at Memorial Stadium.

Cotto has three homers against Baltimore this season.

So the Orioles regained the worst home record in the majors (14-26) and are in danger of losing their seventh straight series to the Mariners.

They did raise more than $65,000 during the Hits for the Homeless Telethon by getting nine hits, but it was the Mariners who won the home run derby.

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