Reeling O's caught by Marlins, 7-5 Losing streak hits 7 after Erickson fails to hold five-run lead

O's fall 9 games under .500

Alomar error costly

Palmeiro hits 24th HR

July 01, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles manager Ray Miller sat in his office before last night's game and lashed out at recent criticism of his club's play during the just-concluded road trip. The effort is there, he insisted. If fingers are to be pointed, they should be directed elsewhere.

Right now, they're pointing at a losing streak that has reached seven games.

Coming off a weekend sweep by the low-budget Montreal Expos, the Orioles were undone last night by the stripped-down, last-place Florida Marlins. World champions in name only, the Marlins rallied from an early five-run deficit to prevail, 7-5, before 43,505 at Camden Yards.

Derrek Lee brought in the winning runs in the seventh off reliever Alan Mills with a two-out single along the right-field line, rewarding an unheralded Marlins bullpen that held the Orioles (37-46) without a hit over the final 5 2/3 innings.

The only base runner after a leadoff double by Mike Bordick in the fourth came on a one-out walk to pinch hitter Rich Becker in the ninth. Eighteen of the last 19 were retired.

As a result, the Orioles fell a season-high 22 1/2 games out of first place, and 12 1/2 behind the Boston Red Sox for the wild card. They also are nine games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 20, 1995.

"I got exactly what I wanted," Miller said. "We got some offense up front and scored some runs. It just didn't hold up."

Neither did Scott Erickson, who lasted 5 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since May 6 in Cleveland. His only accomplishment was sidestepping his first loss since May 31, leaving with the score tied 5-5. He threw 104 pitches.

Rafael Palmeiro finds out today whether he has been chosen as a reserve on the American League's All-Star team or snubbed again despite numbers that scream for his inclusion. He stated his case a little louder with his 24th homer, a three-run shot in the first inning that easily cleared the right-field scoreboard. It came after Roberto Alomar and Eric Davis had scratched out infield hits against Marlins rookie Brian Meadows.

Davis, playing for the first time since being hit on the elbow last week in New York, added a two-run single in the second inning for a 5-0 lead. Moved into the leadoff spot, Alomar responded with two hits and a run scored, but also made a costly error.

Erickson retired the first nine batters and had no-hit stuff. Soon after, he had no lead. He allowed hits to five of the first six batters he faced in the fourth inning, including an RBI double by former Oriole Todd Zeile and a two-run single by Cliff Floyd. Floyd added a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to tie the score.

"It's pretty irritating," Erickson said. "When you score five like that, I've got to be able to win that game. I just didn't do it tonight."

Making his 17th major-league start, Meadows lasted until one out in the fourth inning. Three of the eight hits off him didn't leave TC the infield. Another, a two-out bullet by Brady Anderson in the first inning, was deflected off Zeile before rolling into shallow left field for a double.

The Marlins wiped his slate clean in the fifth. Both runs were unearned after Alomar bobbled a one-out grounder by Todd Dunwoody and threw late to first. Edgar Renteria singled to right, and after Mark Kotsay was retired on a nubber in front of the plate, Erickson hit Zeile to load the bases. Floyd fell behind two strikes, worked the count full and lined a single to right.

Erickson got into more trouble with two outs in the sixth, walking another former Oriole, Gregg Zaun, and allowing a bloop double to Craig Counsell that would have brought in the go-ahead run if it hadn't bounced into the seats in left field. Norm Charlton replaced Erickson and retired Dunwoody on a grounder to first.

Mills (1-3) started the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to Renteria, the ball trickling out of Anderson's glove as he attempted a sliding catch. Renteria stole second with one out and Floyd was walked intentionally after Zeile popped out. Lee then delivered a flare over first base, causing Miller to slam down a towel in disgust.

His club is falling just as hard. And there's no argument.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Florida Marlins

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Marlins' Livan Hernandez (6-4, 4.24) vs. Orioles' Pete Smith (0-2, 9.64)

% Tickets: 7,000 remain

Year's difference

The Orioles closed out June on a seven-game losing streak, looking nothing like last year's wire-to-wire American League East winners. A comparison of the first three months last year and this season:

1997 .......... 1998

April 16-7 .... April* 14-13

May 20-8 .... May 11-17

June 15-12 .... June 12-16

Tot: 51-27 ... Tot: 37-46

Pct: .654 ..... Pct.: .446

Place: 1st .... Place: 4th

GB/GA: +5 1/2 . GB/GA: -22 1/2

*-Includes March 31 game

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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