Red Sox put 5-2 chill on Orioles

May 19, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

A paid crowd of 47,612, the largest for a regular-season game in Oriole Park at Camden Yards history, came out in the cold anticipating witnessing a pitching duel for the second night in a row.

Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina one night. Aaron Sele and Ben McDonald the next.

Only three of the four pitchers cooperated. Much to the chagrin of the 12th consecutive sellout crowd at Camden Yards, McDonald was the lone exception.

McDonald (7-2, 3.75), pulled after facing one batter in the fourth inning last night, allowed eight hits and four runs, taking the loss as Boston evened the series with a 5-2 victory over the Orioles.

The four-run second inning the Red Sox pinned on McDonald was all they needed to support Sele, who pitched a complete-game seven-hitter, walking one and striking out nine. Sele shut out the Orioles over the final eight innings.

Sele has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 25 of his 26 major-league starts.

McDonald, who has lost two of his past three starts, has allowed four earned runs or more in each of his past three starts.

"No matter how good you are, some nights you don't have it," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said of McDonald. "I just didn't think he had it and I just didn't think he was going to get it corrected. I thought I gave him plenty of rope to get it corrected."

McDonald's worst three starts of the season have been his past three. If that doesn't send May alarmists into a frenzy, maybe this will: The Orioles have lost four of their past five games and they blew a chance to move into a second-place tie with Boston and within two games of the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East. The Red Sox closed to within a game of the Yankees and the Orioles remained three games off the pace.

The Orioles wasted a slick night from their steadily improving bullpen. Left-hander Tom Bolton, a former Red Sox starter, made his third relief appearance (all scoreless) for the Orioles. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two in three innings. Mark Williamson and Jim Poole went the rest of the way without allowing an earned run.

The Orioles, consistently underachieving offensively, have scored 13 runs in their past five games, though Rafael Palmeiro was not denied.

Singling to center in the third inning, Palmeiro extended his hitting streak to 20 games.

No need for Joe DiMaggio to start a smear campaign on the diluted state of major-league pitching just yet, but Palmeiro's streak is the longest in the major leagues this season. It also

matches the longest of Palmeiro's career, set with the Chicago Cubs.

Of more import to the Orioles is McDonald's streaking in the opposite direction.

In his shortest and sloppiest start of the season, McDonald was hammered for four earned runs on eight hits and three walks in three-plus innings.

In his past three starts, McDonald has a 7.88 ERA and is averaging 5 1/3 innings per start. He did not allow more than three earned runs in any of his first six starts. He has allowed six, four and four in his last three.

The American League Pitcher of the Month for April will not repeat in May. Cleveland scored six runs in 6 1/3 innings off McDonald and Minnesota scored four in 6 2/3 innings.

McDonald, whose elbow has not been 100 percent all season, did not use that as an excuse for his rough outing.

"It's not a factor," McDonald said. "I'm not going to blame it on that. It was just a matter of not being able to establish anything besides my fastball. I've gone through that many times in my career."

McDonald said he was going through a "dead-arm period."

"You go through that a couple of times a year," McDonald said.

Sele obviously is not going through his now. His curveball stopped the hitters all night. The best of the night might have been the one he threw to Cal Ripken for a called third strike in the ninth.

"That thing broke pretty good," Sele said. "Cal's such a great hitter, you don't want to make a mistake. That's what I was thinking. When I came over the top with it, I really pulled it down. It looked like a pretty good pitch. That's one of those things. You throw that pitch 10 times and it might break that way once."

Boston pitching coach Mike Roarke visited Sele on the mound in the first inning and urged him to throw more curveballs. Sele listened and straightened himself out in a hurry.

McDonald took the mound for the second inning with a 2-0 lead and was hit hard in the second, when the Red Sox batted around, and scored four runs on four singles, a double and two walks.

Otis Nixon singled in the first run with the bases loaded, Mike Greenwell knocked in the next two with a bases-loaded single and Mo Vaughn's single to center gave the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.

Mike Oquist began warming up in the second, but McDonald stayed in the game until allowing a leadoff single to Nixon in the fourth. Oates took the ball from him then and handed it to left-hander Bolton.

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