Another 1-run loss pushes O's 5 back Darwin gives Red Sox series with 2-1 win

August 02, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

There have been better days at Camden Yards. In the space of 16 hours yesterday, the American League East race took a couple of decidedly negative turns, and the Orioles found themselves facing the wrong direction at a critical point in the season.

It began with the 12:20 a.m. announcement that the first-place Toronto Blue Jays had acquired outfielder Rickey Henderson from the Oakland Athletics for the stretch run.

It ended with the Orioles five games out of first place after a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the deciding game of another important divisional showdown.

Right-hander Danny Darwin carried a shutout bid into the seventh inning and defeated the Orioles for the second time this year, needing only a bases-empty home run by Andre Dawson and a run-scoring double by Bob Zupcic to improve his record to 10-8.

The Orioles appeared to be in a position to make up a game on all three teams in front of them after catcher Chris Hoiles made it a one-run game with his 20th homer of the year in the seventh inning, but their luck turned sour on both sides of the border in the final innings.

The New York Yankees had lost and the Blue Jays were trailing by a run in the ninth when the Orioles stranded the tying run in scoring position with a pair of ground outs in the eighth inning. Minutes later, the Blue Jays staged a last-gasp rally at SkyDome and defeated the Detroit Tigers, 2-1.

Instead of being three games back -- or even four -- the Orioles suddenly were five out for the first time since July 2. There are two months left to play, but the presence of three teams ahead of them in the standings makes every game of that deficit much more difficult to erase.

"This was a tough one to lose," said Orioles starter Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched a solid 6 1/3 innings in defeat. "We just have to keep at it. At this time of year, you know that you are going to get good pitching and defense on both sides."

Sutcliffe just needed to remind himself of that. He had struggled through a winless July, but has rebounded with two decent starts in a row. He gave up two runs on nine hits before turning the game over to the bullpen, but his record fell to 8-7.

"He pitched well enough to win the last two games," manager Johnny Oates said, "but we just haven't scored him enough runs."

Darwin pitched better. He gave up four hits over 6 1/3 innings to follow up the 7 2/3 shutout innings he threw in a victory here May 12.

It had to be a discouraging day all around, though Oates tried hard to keep it in perspective. He insisted that there were plenty of positive developments, including the long home run (408 feet to straightaway left field) by Hoiles and the solid outing by Sutcliffe.

"There's a lot to be positive about," Oates said. "I have my health. The sun's out. I have a wife and kids, and I'm going to have dinner with them soon."

Perspective should have been easy to come by, especially after a line drive hit first baseman Glenn Davis in the left side of the head and sent him sprawling down a dugout stairway in the fourth inning. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where doctors determined that he was not seriously injured.

The game had to go on. The Red Sox had taken the lead in the fourth on Dawson's second home run of the series. They added the second run in the sixth, when Zupcic doubled to left to score Mo Vaughn. Sutcliffe would pitch with runners on base in each of the seven innings in which he appeared, but he got enough big outs to give the Orioles a chance to overcome the modest deficit.

"Personally, you keep going out there and trying to get better," Sutcliffe said. "The object of the game is to win, but the last couple of outings have been encouraging. Things have gotten better, but in a ballgame like this, one pitch or one base hit can turn the game around."

The Orioles have lost five of their past six games. Each of their past four losses have been by one run. In each game, there were instances when they could have changed the outcome.

"That just shows how close we are," Sutcliffe said. "There were a lot of things that could have happened and we would have won."

Hoiles' home run gave him back-to-back 20-homer seasons and seemed to give the Orioles a psychological boost. Mark McLemore followed in the eighth with a one-out double off the left-field fence to put the tying run in scoring position, but Mike Devereaux grounded out to third and Harold Baines grounded to second to end the threat.

Boston closer Jeff Russell did the rest, retiring the Orioles in order in the ninth to record his 28th save.

"It's a growing process," Oates said. "No one said we were going to be the '27 Yankees, but we're seeing some things that are positive. You're not going to bust every game open, but it's not like we're being completely shut down either."

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