Orioles spirt away Tigers, 6-2 10th loss in row here leaves Detroit feeling haunted

June 25, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,STATS 1993 TCStaff Writer

Forgive Sparky Anderson for thinking ghosts are hanging out at Camden Yards. By now, the manager of the Detroit Tigers can be excused for suspecting George Herman Ruth is running Bambino's Pub.

Anderson is about to become the fifth winningest manager in baseball history -- but his team still hasn't won a game at Oriole Park. The Tigers' losing streak at Camden Yards reached 10 last night when the Orioles completed a three-game sweep with a 6-2 victory that moved them within five games of the division leaders.

It was the first time this year that the Tigers have been swept in a series and the three straight losses to the Orioles matches their longest losing streak of the year. The sweep reduces the Tigers' AL East lead over the Toronto Blue Jays to percentage points and leaves the Orioles three games behind the third-place Yankees, who open a three-game series at Camden Yards tonight.

When Anderson arrived in Baltimore three days ago he needed one win to tie Walter Alston for fifth place on baseball's all-time list. He left early this morning still looking for win No. 2,040.

After the first game of the series,when the Tigers blew a 7-1 lead, Anderson said: "Crazy things keep happening in this joint."

By the time last night's game, which required three hours and 56 minutes, was completed, Anderson had nothing to say. His post-game meal no doubt was as difficult to digest as the three losses had been. But after losing seven straight here a year ago and the first three this year, the Tigers can be forgiven for thinking they might be jinxed.

"I'm glad to be leaving this place," said left-hander Tom Bolton, who pitched five effective innings in relief last night. "I kind of blew it [the losing streak] off, but maybe there is something to this. Maybe we should burn some candles here or something."

Like the previous two, last night's game had its strange moments. A three-run homer by Harold Baines provided the offensive impetus for Ben McDonald (4-6) to win a second straight decision for the first time this season.

The home run came after one of the most intriguing at-bats of the year -- a 10-pitch duel between Baines and Mark Leiter (6-4). And it followed a catcher's interference play that still resulted in a key single by Cal Ripken.

"We were very fortunate tonight," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "They hit a lot of balls at people. But we had enough hitting and enough pitching, and played good enough to win.

"That's three games we don't have to worry about making up later on -- now we have to concentrate on the Yankees, and winning that series."

The Tigers had McDonald and his three successors on the ropes most of last night, but couldn't apply the finishing touch. Between the fourth and seventh innings they left enough men on base (10) to field a team.

During the course of the evening, three rallies by the Tigers ended with line drives that were caught by the Orioles.

McDonald gave up six hits in 5 1/3 innings, but also struck out six batters, three of them with runners on base.

"I have to tip my hat to him," said the Tigers' Tony Phillips. "He made some pitches when he had to -- we had him on the ropes, but we couldn't finish him off.

"We had some bad luck, but they are a good team and they got the big hits. They got the three wins because of big, crucial hits. You can't blame it all on bad luck."

But there was no doubt that the Orioles had their share of good fortune in winning for the 17th time in the past 20 games. "We definitely got more breaks than they did tonight," said Mark McLemore, one of the game's key figures.

It was McLemore who ran down a long drive by Alan Trammell with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning -- one pitch after Trammell hit a drive down the left-field line that was foul by about 12 inches.

That ended the Tigers' last threat and when McLemore followed up with a two-run double in the eighth, Brad Pennington was able to last three innings and get his fourth save of the year.

The rookie left-hander came into a difficult situation in the seventh and struck out pinch hitter Dan Gladden and Chad Kreuter before Trammell lined out.

"Brad deserves all the credit," said McDonald, who has been suffering with a virus since last weekend. "He [Pennington] did a great job. I got a little tired in the sixth inning, but the bullpen picked me up."

When McDonald walked Kreuter with one out in the sixth, Oates decided not to gamble with a three-run lead. "He had thrown a lot of pitches, and I felt it was time to take him out," said Oates.

Jim Poole and Mark Williamson finished the sixth, but Williamson got himself into immediate trouble in the seventh, when he gave up a walk and two singles. Cecil Fielder, whose 19th homer had accounted for the Tigers' first run, drove in another with a single through the middle.

That left Pennington to challenge the Tigers with his fastball with two runners on and nobody out. He survived, thanks to a pair of strikeouts and McLemore's catch.

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