White Sox rap O's, 9-3, halt streak at 5 Drabek gets 1st win with 3-hit, 1-run performance over 8

Orioles in 9-1 hole after 4

Boskie is pounded for 8 earned runs early

April 17, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- On a night made for reversals of fortune, the Orioles were undone by necessity.

Doug Drabek and the Chicago White Sox held them down for eight innings while overdue Orioles starter Shawn Boskie couldn't hold his downtrodden opponent for one. The aftermath was a 9-3 loss in which the Orioles managed four of their seven hits in the ninth inning.

Drabek, who lost in two previous starts, earned his first win by holding the Orioles to three hits and one run over eight innings. The dormant bats of Albert Belle and Frank Thomas finally awoke. The ugly combination left the Orioles trailing 9-1 after four innings.

Played out before 14,061, this game was payback for the solid play and good fortune of the last week. A lineup card resembling Davey Johnson's previous five was torn up three hours before the game when a series of nagging injuries flared. The result was an early blowout for the White Sox, who improved to 4-9 while the Orioles' league-best record slipped to 9-3.

"It was a cold night and Drabek pitched well and we didn't," said Johnson. "You give Drabek a little lead and he won't give you much to hit."

Comiskey Park offered a bleaker setting than usual. Players took batting practice in parkas. Snow began falling in the second inning and at one point threatened to manufacture a replay of the April 9 blizzard in Kansas City. The snow eventually dissipated. Drabek didn't. Nor did Boskie's troubles.

Making his third start of the season, Drabek carried a 15.95 ERA into the game. He went past the fourth inning for the first time and kept going. The Orioles managed only two hits through seven innings, pushing only two runners into scoring position.

"That looked the Drabek I remember from the National League," said center fielder Jerome Walton. "He pretty much kept us off balance all night. He was on with his changeup and his curveball. When he's like that, he's tough."

For the first time this year, the top half of the lineup vanished. Only second baseman Jeff Reboulet proved a distraction to Drabek. Cal Ripken's only hit was a single in the ninth. Brady Anderson, who had reached base an average of three times per game, managed a first-inning walk and nothing more. Rafael Palmeiro struck out in his first two at-bats and fell into an 0-for-11 rut.

And those were the regulars.

The Orioles had won five straight but not with anything resembling this lineup, a concoction comprised of Walton in center field and Pete Incaviglia in right. Second baseman Roberto Alomar missed a second straight game and Boskie was appearing on 10 days' rest. The Orioles weren't mailing this one in, but the game certainly seemed postmarked for trouble.

The Orioles won Tuesday night without Alomar, but they desperately need him and Eric Davis to maintain the lineup's TC flow. Davis is bothered by a sore shoulder and a temperamental knee. Last night's makeshift arrangement created gorges. The White Sox worked them for two doubles and a triple besides two home runs.

However, the game's most disturbing development involved Boskie, who struggled early and often with his control while being hammered by the middle of the Sox lineup. The Orioles had allowed opponents only a .217 average entering the game. The Sox had been hitting only .242 and been outscored 71-51 in 12 games. Their pitching staff had yielded a 4.98 ERA and 157 base runners in 108 innings. (The Orioles had allowed 119 runners in 99 2/3 innings.)

Boskie fell hard. Whether the aftershocks will jeopardize his standing as No. 4 starter is uncertain. Whether he felt rust was undeniable.

In four innings, Boskie allowed nine runs (eight earned) on six hits and four walks. His night was soiled early when the White Sox reached him for four runs after two outs in the first inning.

The rally began harmlessly enough with a walk to Thomas. Belle then broke a 1-for-27 funk by doubling into right-center field. By -- stopping at third, Thomas invited an intentional walk of No. 5 hitter Harold Baines. Here, Boskie hurt himself, walking Chris Snopek to force in a run. Hitting .191, Dave Martinez detonated the inning by tripling past the slow-arriving Incaviglia, who then overran the ricochet off the right-field fence.

The Orioles put together token resistance against Drabek in the second. Walton walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Chris Hoiles' single.

The elements again ganged up on Incaviglia in the second. With two outs and a runner at first, Thomas lofted a fly ball that Incaviglia circled, appeared to have under control, then dropped for an error. Making only his second start in the outfield, Incaviglia was hardly assisted by a 20 mile-per-hour crosswind.

"I just butchered it, basically," said Incaviglia.

As troublesome as Boskie's outing became, the Orioles at least gained a first glimpse of Rocky Coppinger since he went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Results were encouraging.

Coppinger threw freely and with control. He broke the White Sox's run with a scoreless fifth inning and retired the side in order in the seventh.

Barring a relapse, Coppinger is expected to make one more relief appearance before joining the rotation, probably next week.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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