Moyer again starts off on wrong foot in 6-5 loss

June 21, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Orioles left-hander Jamie Moyer stood on the bullpen mound at the end of his pre-game warm-up last night and imagined he was facing Jody Reed, Kevin Seitzer and Greg Vaughn, the first three hitters in the Milwaukee Brewers' batting order.

He finished the imaginary 1-2-3 inning, walked into the dugout, then took the mound.

Reality was so much more cruel.

Again.

Moyer couldn't shake his first-inning blues and the Orioles couldn't shake Moyer's four-run first inning, losing to the Brewers, 6-5, before 47,262 spectators at Camden Yards.

Vaughn and Dave Nilsson each had hit two-run home runs before Moyer had recorded his second out.

For the fourth consecutive Moyer start, the first inning was the worst inning. Moyer has a first-inning ERA of 22.50 in his past four outings and has allowed at least two runs in the first inning of each one.

The opposition has hit .522 against Moyer in the first inning of his past four starts.

"I've tried starting a little sooner and ending a little later," Moyer said of his bullpen workout. "I've tried starting a little later and ending a little sooner. I've tried pitching an inning, then sitting down."

Everyone is searching for solutions to Moyer's first-inning blues.

"You do all those things," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "You even change what you have for breakfast."

Sometimes, the blues just go away and nobody knows why.

Moyer, who went 12-9 for the Orioles last season, isn't going away. Nobody wants him to go away. Everyone wants him to come back, back to 1993.

Moyer has won once in his past 11 starts.

Throughout it, Moyer never stopped feeling right on the mound.

Until last night.

"For the first time all year I felt flat," Moyer said. "Those two home runs were just horrible pitches."

The timing wasn't the greatest for the Orioles.

Seven innings, 15 hits, 12 earned runs, three home runs.

Those are the two-day starting pitching totals for the Orioles, who bank on ace Mike Mussina to give the bullpen a rest tonight.

One day after No. 5 starter Mike Oquist didn't survive the third inning, Moyer didn't make it out of the fifth. The Brewers rapped 10 of their 13 hits off Moyer (2-5, 5.84), who allowed six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Forced to play catch-up, the Orioles couldn't overcome the Brewers' four-run first highlighted by the home runs from Vaughn, who jumped on a fat changeup and sent it over the left-field fence, and Nilsson, who drilled a curve over the right-field wall.

Consequently, on a night when the Orioles turned four double plays, got another terrific relief outing from Mark Eichhorn (four shutout innings, four strikeouts), and a three-hit, one-homer night from Harold Baines, they still lost the game and ground in the standings.

The New York Yankees expanded their lead in the American League East to three games over the second-place Orioles.

Bill Wegman (5-0) earned the win for the Brewers despite allowing two home runs and 13 base runners by hit or walk in 5 1/3 innings. The Orioles couldn't take advantage, stranding seven runners in the first four innings.

Left-hander Graeme Lloyd earned his third save with two shutout innings.

"Tonight was a little bit of a battle -- probably the hardest I've ever worked," said Wegman, who also yielded five runs the last time he faced the Orioles -- an 8-5 loss on June 14 last year. "You pick the right day and you win. Tonight, we scored more runs than they did and I happened to be the guy out there."

Moyer has pitched into the seventh inning in 10 of his 14 starts. But last night, for the second time in three starts, Moyer didn't make it out of the fifth inning.

From the outset, it was clear this would not be Moyer's night. The two home runs gave the Brewers a 4-0 lead before the Orioles got a chance to bat.

The Brewers loaded the bases against Moyer in the second inning, but he got out of it by getting Vaughn to ground into a double play, ending Vaughn's consecutive home run streak at three at-bats.

Two easy innings later, Moyer ran into trouble again in the fifth, when four of the first five Brewers singled, runs scoring on Brian Harper's hit-and-run single to right and Nilsson's line single to center.

Moyer had no complaints about his pitches that inning, especially considering Harper threw his bat at the pitch he hit into right.

Right-hander Mark Eichhorn came on to face switch-hitter Turner Ward, who, bothered by a sore ankle that troubles him when he bats from the left side, hit right-handed against Eichhorn and grounded into a double play.

By that time, the Brewers had taken a 6-2 lead.

Brady Anderson made sure that Wegman's night also got off to a bad start. The day after being rested for the first time, at least until a ninth-inning pinch-hitting appearance, Anderson got the Orioles started with his seventh homer of the season, a shot to right. It trimmed Milwaukee's lead to 4-1.

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