Beat goes on O's lose eighth, 5-3

Marlins extend skid, driving Smith wild for 4 runs in 4 innings

O's fall 10 games under .500

Palmeiro hits 25th HR

Miller gets ejected

July 02, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For a change, the Orioles didn't have to wait through a rain delay last night. Instead, the game's early pace was deadened ** by another stalled effort from one of their starting pitchers.

The first inning turned into a prolonged chase, with Pete Smith trying to keep up with a moving plate. He failed, as did the Orioles' bid to end a seven-game losing streak. Picking up where others have left off, the Florida Marlins jumped out to an early lead and took a 5-3 victory before 41,997 at Camden Yards.

Manager Ray Miller stuck around for half of it, getting thrown out by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom after arguing a call at third base in the fifth inning. It was Miller's fourth ejection this year, and it came after Cliff Floyd was ruled safe by umpire Mike Reilly on an attempted steal, though replays showed he slid into Cal Ripken's glove.

Ripken began the argument, then was replaced by Miller, who waved his arms and stomped his foot while yelling at Reilly. On his way to the dugout, he turned and said something to Cederstrom and was tossed. "I didn't get much of an argument at third. I mentioned to the guy at home that we weren't getting many calls and he threw me out," Miller said.

Floyd's stolen base was the fourth by the Marlins. He was denied another while trying to steal home in the same inning. Smith already had balked once, and Florida manager Jim Leyland was hoping for a repeat from left-hander Doug Johns, who allowed one run and retired the last 11 batters he faced over five innings.

The Orioles (37-47) fell 23 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees and trail Boston by 13 1/2 in the wild-card chase. They're 10 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 19, 1995. Two of the organization's 10 longest losing streaks have taken place this year, including a nine-game skid from May 14-22.

The Orioles put the tying runs on base with none out in the ninth against one-time farmhand Jay Powell, but Mike Bordick hit into a double play after failing to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Roberto Alomar flied to left to make the Orioles' eighth straight loss official.

The night also included Rafael Palmeiro's 25th home run, and third in three games, leading off the fourth inning. He also had an RBI single in the eighth and went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .300. Named the AL's Player of the Month for June but not among the All-Star reserves, Palmeiro needs four homers to reach 300 for his career.

If only he could do something about the pitching. In their past 31 games, the Orioles have received 12 starts of six or more innings.

Only three have come from someone other than Mike Mussina or Scott Erickson. Miller said he'll "sit back and think" about returning Johns to the rotation, though he seemed to be leaning toward keeping him in middle relief.

"The starting pitching's been a problem all year and it's just going to have to get better," Miller said. "Pete Smith was trying real hard and was just missing. When you're missing a lot you don't get the close pitches and things kind of multiplied."

Smith hasn't won since May 5 in Milwaukee. He's 0-3 with a no-decision in four starts since joining the Orioles in a June 9 trade with San Diego, allowing 19 runs and 27 hits and never lasting more than five innings. He hasn't eclipsed 6 1/3 in any of his 14 appearances this year.

He had enough trouble making it through the first inning last night. Fans were booing by the third batter, which Smith walked along with two others to load the bases. Floyd hit into a force at second and Smith balked in another run when he wiped his hand on his leg while standing on the rubber.

By the time Derrek Lee hit a checked-swing roller to Bordick for the last out, Smith's pitch count already was up to 34. He also had thrown over to first base seven times.

Smith got two quick outs in the second inning, then allowed three straight hits and another run. Craig Counsell doubled down the left-field line and scored on Todd Dunwoody's single into right-center field.

The lead swelled to 4-0 in the fourth. Counsell reached on a fielder's choice with one out and stole second. He moved up on Smith's second wild pitch and scored when Dunwoody bounced a single up the middle past a drawn-in infield.

Smith was done after four innings, 85 pitches and 18 pickoff throws. He allowed five hits and walked four. Johns took his place and unloaded a wild pitch after Todd Zeile had singled. Floyd then hammered a ground-rule double into center field, the ball hopping into the Orioles' bullpen for his sixth RBI of the series.

The rest was up to Marlins starter Livan Hernandez (7-4), exactly what the foundering Orioles didn't need. Last year's World Series MVP had back-to-back complete-game victories and is 5-1 in his last eight starts. He allowed 10 hits and three runs in 7 2/3 innings.

Ain't no sunshine

The Orioles, who lost all three games to the Marlins last season, are 0-6 at Camden Yards against teams from the Sunshine State this year, even though Florida and expansion Tampa Bay are 58-101 outside of Oriole Park.

... Opp .... L Pitcher .. Score

T. Bay ... Key ........ L 4-1

T. Bay ... Erickson ... L 5-2

T. Bay ... Mills ...... L 7-3

T. Bay ... Drabek ..... L 6-3

Florida .. Mills ...... L 7-5

7-1 Florida ... Smith ...... L 5-3

Orioles today

Oponent: Florida Marlins

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 3: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Marlins' Joe Fontenot (0-6, 6.16) vs. O's Sidney Ponson (1-6, 6.67)

Tickets: 3,500 remain

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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