The ongoing saga of Jose Mesa often sounds like a broken record. And it kept repeating again last night.
Orioles manager John Oates volunteered the information that he actually found some encouragement in Mesa's brief and ineffective outing last night.
The righthander gave up eight hits and three earned runs in three-plus innings before Jim Poole bailed him out of a bases-loaded, none out jam in the fourth inning.
"I was more impressed with him tonight than I have been in a long time," said Oates. "The reason was that he didn't come out and go ball one, ball two' all the time.
"He gave himself a chance by throwing strikes. And he wasn't taking as much time on the mound. He got the ball and went after them."
Mesa threw only 16 balls in 49 pitches, but he was hardly a mystery to the Red Sox. "I don't know if we can get him to the point where he can be as consistent as [Bob] Milacki and [Mike] Mussina," said Oates. "But we've got to keep trying."
* DEFENSIVE RECORD: Last night was the 11th straight errorless game for the Orioles, a club record. The 1962 team previously had gone 10 straight without an error.
Both the American League and major-league records were broken earlier this year. The Angels had 14 straight games without a miscue June 14-28, and the Cardinals had a 15-game streak May 24-June 10.
Last night was the 89th game without an error for the Orioles, four less than the team record set in 1989. With only 84 errors, the Orioles should become the first major-league team to make less than 100 errors in three straight seasons.
* ATTENDANCE CHECK: Based on current projections, which means no rainouts, the Orioles would finish with the second highest attendance ever for a team finishing below .500 for the season.
The Angels drew 2,696,299 with a team that finished 75-87 in 1987. Last year the Angels reached 2,555,688, almost 140,000 more than the Orioles.
With five dates remaining, the Orioles have drawn 2,394,655 and will finish around the 2.6 million mark for the year.
* THIS 'N THAT: The Red Sox had won eight straight one-run decisions before last night . . . They are 15-6 this month, despite losing their last two . . . This is the first time they've lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row Aug. 23-25 . . . Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn fell over the tarpaulin down the rightfield line while making a spectacular catch of a foul ball hit by Leo Gomez in the eighth inning. No damage to the tarpaulin was reported.
Mike Devereaux drove in the winning run with a fourth-inning single and now has 19 tying or go-ahead runs this year, second on the team to Cal Ripken's 35 . . . The Orioles have now played 48 one-run games (17-31), including eight of the last 11 (4-4) . . . Last night's win was No. 50 for Oates (63 losses).
The Orioles managed only five hits off Mike Gardiner (9-8) and Dennis Lamp and have just 39 in their last six games.