The Milwaukee Brewers were struggling when they arrived in Baltimore this week, but Memorial Stadium has become the Ellis Island of baseball.
Bring us your poor, your tired, your injured masses, yearning to win a series on the road. This is what it has come to for the home-weary Baltimore Orioles, who dropped a 6-4 decision last night and lost three of four to the fifth-place Brewers.
Home runs by Cal Ripken and Sam Horn could not keep the Orioles from taking sole possession of the worst home record in baseball. They dropped to 17-34 with their 11th loss in the past 15 games here, falling out of a tie with the Cleveland Indians (17-33).
Nice touch. The Orioles are letting every team that comes to town win its last series at Memorial Stadium.
Right-hander Bob Milacki gave up three home runs on the way to seven-inning, five-run performance that dropped his record to 7-6. Two nights earlier, teammate Dave Johnson gave up five runs over six innings and got the victory, which only goes to show that it's better to pitch on a night when your team scores in double figures.
Brewers right-hander Bill Wegman pitched seven-plus innings and gave up four runs to record his seventh victory of the year, though he needed the three big swings to survive a nine-hit performance that was something less than overpowering.
He turned a one-run lead over to the Milwaukee bullpen, but the Brewers scored an insurance run on a disputed play in the ninth to make Edwin Nunez's fifth save that much easier.
Manager John Oates argued vehemently after first-base umpire Joe Brinkman ruled Bill Spiers safe on a double-play relay that could have kept the Orioles within a run going into the bottom of the ninth, but even the video replay was too close to call.
"From my perspective, he was out," Oates said. "The umpire said he was safe and some people watching on TV said you couldn't tell. We wanted him to be out real bad, but he wasn't, so you have to go on from there."
The Orioles were forced to play big-time catch-up again and they almost succeeded in making up an early four-run deficit. But where have you heard that before?
Milacki has been the most effective pitcher in the Orioles starting rotation, but he has not been immune to the inconsistency that has plagued every pitcher who has taken a turn for the club this year.
He was scored upon in each of the first three innings last night to embellish the most telling Orioles statistic of 1991. When the Brewers took a 3-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by Spiers in the second inning, it was the 33rd time in 107 games that the Orioles have trailed by three runs or more before the fourth inning.
"It was just one of those nights when they hit everything," Milacki said. "I really didn't fall behind on too many hitters. All the home runs were hit on off-speed pitches. After that, I stayed with my fastball and had success."
The Brewers took the lead in the first inning when Willie Randolph doubled with one out and Darryl Hamilton hit his first home run in 13 months -- a shot to right that bounced on the top of the fence before landing in the Brewers bullpen. The last Hamilton home run was a grand slam against the California Angels July 8, 1990.
Milwaukee added the run in the second after B.J. Surhoff delivered a one-out double and made it 4-0 when Greg Vaughn hit a tremendous home run that landed halfway up in the bleachers behind left field.
It was the 19th home run of the year for Vaughn, who didn't start the season as an everyday player. He ended up with a full-time job in left field after Candy Maldonado broke his foot in the second game of the season. Vaughn has gone on to lead the Brewers in home runs and RBI (62).
There was nothing cheap about the third Brewers home run, either. Paul Molitor led off the fifth with another shot that landed deep in the left-field bleachers.
"Overall, Bobby threw well," Oates said. "He hung a changeup to Molitor and a slider to Vaughn. It looked like Hamilton reached down and golfed a pretty good curveball. He's a good low ball hitter. Curveball, slider, changeup. That's the game in three pitches."
Milacki is tied for the club lead in home runs allowed with 12, but his home run-to-inning ratio (one homer for every nine innings pitched) remains the best among the club's active starters.
Wegman missed much of last year after elbow surgery and started the 1991 season on an injury rehabilitation assignment, but he has been one of the most consistent pitchers on the Milwaukee staff.
Wegman (7-6) retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced -- seven of them on balls hit in the air -- while the Brewers were building him a comfortable lead, but the Orioles finally got on the board with a couple of two-out hits in the bottom of the fourth.
Horn, who came into the game in a 3-for-27 slump, hit a line drive to straightaway center that short-hopped the fence at the 405 marker for a double. Randy Milligan followed with a soft line drive to right that scored Horn standing up. Wegman went on to walk Joe Orsulak to bring the tying run to the plate, but Leo Gomez struck out to end the inning.
Ripken added a second run in the sixth with his 23rd home run of the season, another shot that landed well back in the left-field bleachers. It was only his second home run since July 20, but it still is the earliest that he has hit 23.