Valenzuela is at a loss for runs Good outings fail to produce victories

June 20, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- Move over Ben McDonald, you have company.

The big right-hander isn't the only pitcher on the Orioles' staff suffering from a lack of run support. A good case can also be made for Fernando Valenzuela, who had another strong outing yesterday but came out on the short end of a 3-0 score against the Indians.

"The name of this game is winning, not losing," said Valenzuela who has pitched much better than his record would indicate. In his past 10 starts, the left-hander has allowed three runs or less seven times, but is 2-5 with three no-decisions to show for it.

"We just had a stretch where we averaged six runs a game and we won 10 straight," said manager Johnny Oates. "The way we're pitching, if you give our starters five or six runs they're going to win seven or eight out of 10 -- but if you're scoring only one or two runs a game, it's going to be tough."

Valenzuela's most recent loss probably came down to one pitch -- and it wasn't the one Carlos Baerga hit for a two-run single in the third inning. It was the one that immediately preceded Baerga's hit -- and Valenzuela was left wondering how Wayne Kirby was able to hit a double into the right-field corner.

"It was a curveball down and away," said Valenzuela. "He didn't hit it very good, but he got it in a good spot."

Valenzuela had walked Kenny Lofton with one out to set up the Indians' first two runs. But he appeared to have the left-handed-hitting Kirby overmatched on a swinging second strike, a tight fastball that seemed to set up the next pitch.

"It was away from him, off the plate," said catcher Jeff Tackett. "He just went out and got it."

Valenzuela admitted that his next pitch was a mistake. "I was trying to pitch him [Baerga] inside, but it was over the middle and up," he said.

After the two-run single, Valenzuela got the dangerous Albert Belle to hit into a double play. He then breezed into the eighth inning, leaving after Kirby lined a single to right-center field.

"Baerga does what he has to do," Oates said of the game's most damaging hit. "That's why he's got 57 RBI. He got jammed a little on the pitch, but he was able to go the other way with it."

And the Orioles went the other way -- losing for only the third time in their past 16 games. "Hopefully, it's just a one-day roadblock and we can get back on track [today]," said Oates.

The Orioles are 6-3 on the road trip that ends today, when they will be trying for their sixth straight series win.

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