Rocky start leaves Orioles short at finish Mussina KO'd in 4th as White Sox win, 7-4

August 10, 1991|By Kent Baker

Five days earlier, the starters, Charlie Hough and Mike Mussina, were excellent in a game in which they allowed one run and nine hits over 16 2/3 combined innings.

In the re-run last night at Memorial Stadium, neither pitcher got out of the fourth inning of what was developing into a slug-out.

Order was restored by two dueling bullpens, but, unfortunately for the Baltimore Orioles, it was too late to save them. The Chicago White Sox, in a torrid drive for the American League West lead, outlasted the Orioles, 7-4, before 35,038 fans who endured a 46-minute rain delay at the start and the usual fall-behind tactics by the home team.

When you talk relief, it doesn't get much better than that being produced by the White Sox. Their bullpen has not allowed a run during its past 29 innings while compiling an 1.83 ERA.

Brian Drahman, Melido Perez and Bobby Thigpen rescued Hough after a rocky 3 2/3 innings in this one and held the Orioles to a checked-swing single by Randy Milligan the rest of the way.

That kind of efficiency was necessary because Stacy Jones and Jim Poole shut off the White Sox with similar aplomb after Mussina was roughed up for 11 hits in his second major-league start.

But the Orioles corps couldn't sustain the effort.

Poole got into trouble in the ninth when he slipped trying to field a dribbler by Tim Raines and Leo Gomez committed a second error by throwing wide to first on Robin Ventura's sacrifice bunt, leaving both runners safe.

With the managerial machinery churning, Todd Frohwirth relieved and walked Frank Thomas to fill the bases, then Mike Flanagan came in to face pinch hitter Carlton Fisk, who greeted his first pitch with a two-run single to center.

The Orioles wound up using four pitchers in the ninth in a vain attempt to prevent Chicago's fifth straight victory.

Despite Mussina's reversal, it was a game that was within the team's reach because Hough wasn't sharp, either. But fundamental blunders cost them dearly.

The most glaring was a botched rundown in Chicago's three-run fourth inning that permitted Raines to scoot into second base without a throw. Robin Ventura followed with a two-run single to give the White Sox a lead they never relinquished.

"The bottom line is we want to do everything right," said Orioles manager John Oates. "They gaves us an out and we didn't take it. When you have seven .300 hitters and four 20-game winners, you don't have to worry about things like that.

"But we have to worry about every little base, about playing smart baseball. We're supposed to have an outfielder at second base in that situation. He [Mike Devereaux] was coming, but it was too late."

They also managed to score only once against Hough after loading the bases with none out in the second inning.

Mussina, who departed quickly after the game, threw 77 pitches and watched his ERA soar from 1.17 to 4.91 in his home debut.

"It looked like they were determined to hit his fastball early," said Oates. "They had some good swings at it. Then they hit some off-speed pitches later."

Raines, who had his fourth four-hit game of the season, said the difference in round 2 was "this was a night game and we saw the ball a lot better. Not to take anything away from him [Mussina], but it's tough to pick the ball up in day games in Chicago."

The White Sox are 33-12 in their past 45 games, the best record in the majors, as they continue to apply the pressure to the front-running Minnesota Twins.

They executed like a contender and overcame what Hough called "one of those ugly nights. I just had lousy stuff."

Lance Johnson robbed Devereaux, the first Oriole to hit, of a home run with a leaping catch against the left-center-field wall. The bullpen was sensational again. The offense produced at the right time.

It is the kind of play teams must produce to stay in the race.

Orioles-White Sox scoring

Orioles second: Horn walked. Milligan singled to left, Horn to second. Gomez walked, Horn to third, Milligan to second. Hoiles flied out to right fielder Huff. Bell hit sacrifice fly to right fielder Huff, Horn scored, Milligan to third. Devereaux grounded into fielder's choice to second baseman Cora, Gomez forced at second. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 left on. Orioles 1, White Sox 0.

White Sox third: Raines singled to left. Ventura popped out to third baseman Gomez. Thomas doubled to left, Raines to third. Pasqua struck out. Johnson singled to left, Raines and Thomas scored, Johnson to second on throw home. On Mussina's wild pitch, Johnson to third. Huff struck out. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. White Sox 2, Orioles 1.

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