Mets dump another 6-3 loss on O's Smith throwing error, Charlton wild pitches aid 4-run 5th by N.Y.

O's do little with 14 hits

Miller: Two relievers must 'step up' to stay

June 25, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The Orioles' familiar and deadly combination of short-lived starting pitching, untimely hitting and a wasted early lead followed them to Flushing last night. The creeping sameness resulted in their second straight 6-3 loss to the New York Mets and further evidence that this club will enter the All-Star break with a losing record.

Before a Shea Stadium crowd of 29,789, the Mets did more with nine hits than the Orioles could do with 14, largely because they created a four-run fifth inning out of several wild pitches and a costly throwing error by starting pitcher Pete Smith.

Now 16-14 in their past 30 games, the Orioles fell to 37-41 with 10 games remaining before the break. They have two three-game winning streaks since a 10-2 start. Now 18 1/2 games out of first place, the Orioles didn't suffer last season's 41st loss until Aug. 9 in their 112th game.

Mets starter and former replacement player Rick Reed (9-4) was less than dominant but still more than enough to handle the Orioles. He allowed only one run despite nine hits over seven innings.

After scoring twice in the eighth the Orioles brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning against Mets closer John Franco, but saw the threat evaporate when pinch hitter Joe Carter grounded into a double play. For all their pitching shortcomings, the Orioles also have lost touch with opportunistic offense.

"Nobody here is giving up on each other," said shortstop Mike Bordick, who contributed two of the Orioles' 14 hits. "A lot of times we're one hit away from making something happen. Unfortunately, they were able to get the hit tonight that allowed them to take advantage of their opportunities."

Roberto Alomar's ground ball gave the Orioles a 1-0 first-inning lead -- but at a cost. Eric Davis scored after reaching when Reed hit him on the right elbow.

X-rays of the elbow proved negative but whether Davis plays again soon is uncertain. Davis nearly walked Mike Piazza's single back to the infield in the bottom of the first. Manager Ray Miller lifted him after 3 1/2 innings. Davis already wore a compression sleeve over the elbow to help prevent a bone chip from shifting.

"It's in the same spot that was beat up already. All I can do is hope for the best," said Davis. "Nothing's broke. It just got me good on the nerve and it's tingly."

Designated hitter Harold Baines is still hampered by a pulled hamstring not serious enough to warrant the disabled list but also too severe for him to attempt playing the outfield. With Jeffrey Hammonds still sidelined by a nerve condition, the deepest part of the roster has been worn raw. Miller said he would have used Baines to pinch hit for Jesse Orosco if the inning had lasted three more hitters.

Miller no longer insists things will improve. His team is clearly in a survival mode.

Smith and Monday starter Doug Johns pitched a combined eight innings while allowing seven runs. With the state of his bullpen, Miller knows some might think it premature. He believes it only right.

"The last two nights I pulled a starter early because I thought he was done because he was getting the ball up five or six pitches in a row," Miller said. "When you bring people into the right situation against the right hitter to get people out and they don't do it, you can't penalize someone else and beat them up. If you beat them up, then you have no chance of winning any ballgame."

Miller declared that he will now manage according to situation rather than personnel. He proved his point by calling upon Norm Charlton in a 3-1 game with one out in the fifth inning.

"I have to use two people [Charlton and Terry Mathews]. I cannot not use two people," Miller insisted. "I have to admit I've done that a couple of times at home because we have 40,000 people there every night. If we have a chance to win a ballgame, I don't want to run people out of the ballpark."

Added Miller: "If those people are going to stay here, they're going to have to step up. If they don't step up, we're going to see the same thing."

Smith (0-2) smacked the wall in a familiar place. In his three starts with the Orioles, he has pitched between 4 1/3 and five innings. Smith has surrendered five home runs in his 14 American League innings compared to five home runs in 43 1/3 innings in the National League. Yesterday's twist came from a self-destructive lapse that opened the door for a telling fifth inning that included an error, three wild pitches and a chopped single over a drawn infield.

Smith's collapse began when Reed slapped a one-out single to break a run of nine consecutive batters retired.

Smith then appeared to become unnerved. He wild-pitched Reed to second, then allowed Edgardo Alfonzo's single to center field that bumped the pitcher to third base.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.