Extra effort not enough for Orioles Pitching comes through, bats don't in 2-1, 14-inning loss

April 21, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The waiting is the hardest part. Manager Johnny Oates spen 4 1/2 hours in the Orioles dugout last night, wondering when his supposedly improved offensive lineup would find its way home.

He still is wondering. The Chicago White Sox finally scored a run in the 14th inning to outlast the Orioles, 2-1, before the 65th consecutive sellout crowd at Camden Yards.

White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas drove home the deciding run with a sacrifice fly off reliever Alan Mills and laid to waste two of the brightest Orioles pitching performances of the season. Ben McDonald had thrown a strong 8 2/3 innings in his third start of 1993 and Todd Frohwirth had pitched 4 1/3 innings of hitless relief to push the game toward midnight, but you can't win if you can't score.

"I'm very frustrated," Oates said. "You look back on the first 12 games and you can see plenty of opportunities where just one hit, a cheap one or any kind, or a ground ball here or there would have won for us. We're not getting it."

The pitching, however, appears to be coming together. McDonald has shown improvement his last two starts. Rick Sutcliffe has won his past two games. Mike Mussina is throwing well. The bullpen has been very solid. But none of that will matter if the club cannot produce at the plate.

"When you give up two runs over 14 innings, you should have a pretty good chance to win," Oates said.

The Orioles stranded 10 more runners last night. They got just one hit during a span of 27 outs after Cal Ripken led off the sixth inning with a hit. Three White Sox relievers combined to pitch six shutout innings after starter Wilson Alvarez dueled McDonald into the ninth.

It finally ended when Oates was forced to take Frohwirth out of the game. He had faced 14 batters and allowed just one walk, but he couldn't wait forever for the slumping offense to treat him to his first victory of the season.

Mills took over in the 14th and handed a leadoff walk to Joey Cora. Chris Hoiles complicated the situation with a passed ball ,, before Lance Johnson singled Cora to third and Thomas lined a sacrifice fly to center field to break a tie that had existed since the third inning.

"Ben and Froh both threw the ball very well," Oates said. "Alan threw the ball pretty well, too, but it's tough to pitch when you get behind on the count."

McDonald gave up eight hits before leaving the game to a standing ovation from the crowd of 45,891. He struck out five and walked one to prove that his early-season control problems were just an aberration.

Alvarez worked eight innings and gave up six hits before giving way to a very deep White Sox bullpen. Roberto Hernandez and Scott Radinsky shut down the Orioles for four innings and Donn Pall finished up to earn his first victory.

Frohwirth was right there with them, but he went as far as was prudent. Perhaps he could have squeezed one more inning out of his tired arm, but it made more sense to go to someone fresh.

"They asked me how I felt," Frohwirth said. "I said was feeling a little tired. I've gone further and failed. I don't think I was the best arm we had at that point."

McDonald was coming off a decent outing against Texas last week, but you'd never know it by the 10.80 ERA he carried into last night's game. He still is doing penance for his horrible season-opening start against Seattle, and the poor conditions at Arlington Stadium last Wednesday -- and the erratic outfield play that resulted -- made his pitching line look far worse than his actual performance.

"No doubt about it, this was my best so far," he said. "I thought I threw the ball well against Texas, but the results weren't there. I felt good tonight. I had everything going."

That was obvious from the start. McDonald retired the first six batters before the White Sox broke through for a run in the top of the third. He then worked through the explosive Chicago lineup two more times before turning the game over to Frohwirth.

Steve Sax beat out an infield single to open the third and scored when shortstop Ozzie Guillen's long fly ball sailed over a shallow outfield alignment for a triple. Guillen underwent extensive knee surgery a year ago Thursday, but he looked anything but gimpy as he streaked around the bases on the way to his first three-base hit since 1991.

The Orioles answered right back against Alvarez in the bottom of the inning, but continued to have bad luck on the basepaths. Harold Reynolds delivered a one-out single and scored when Brady Anderson pulled a sharp ground ball into the right-field corner.

Anderson was going for his first triple of 1993, but he didn't get there in time. He was cut down by a relay throw from Cora for the second out.

Cora made another big defensive play in the fourth, making a strong off-balance throw to get Hoiles at the plate and get Alvarez out of a bases-loaded jam. It was not a major foul-up on the part of the Orioles, who have had a couple the past few days, but it didn't do anything to improve the club's image on the bases.

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