Angels end O's run, 8-3 9-game winning string cut as Rodriguez yields 4 runs in 3 2/3 innings

1st loss since All-Star break

Orioles held to 2 hits after 2-run inning

July 19, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Orioles constructed their nine-game winning streak on the heartbreak of Bret Saberhagen, Pedro Martinez, Rick Helling, Tim Wakefield and Aaron Sele, 10-game winners all. Thrown into a battle of pitching prospects last night with the fading Anaheim Angels, the Orioles' encouraging run died an ugly death, 8-3, before 37,806 beach ball lovers at Edison International Field.

Angels rookie Jarrod Washburn (5-2) took his first win since June 28 by containing a scalding lineup on three hits for 5 2/3 innings. His bullpen then continued the job while Orioles relievers suffered their most harrowing experience this month.

Nerio Rodriguez -- "Super Nerio" only five days before -- countered Washburn with a decidedly unimpressive outing. The extent of his problems was only partially hidden by the bullpen's comatose performance against a lineup that had averaged two runs and 5.3 hits during its homestand. The win reversed the Angels' 1-5 skid at home and gives them a chance to halt a string of seven series without a series win.

The Orioles' first loss of the second half dropped them 10 1/2 games behind wild-card leader Boston.

The Angels represent a potential wild-card rival though they lead the AL West by a half-game over the Texas Rangers. Neither was their win clean. Ace left-hander Chuck Finley was knocked to the floor of the third base dugout when right fielder Joe Carter smoked a third-inning drive off his right forearm. X-rays were negative.

So was the Orioles' attack that had generated 54 runs in their past six games.

The Trade Twins -- first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar -- gave the Orioles a 2-0 first-inning lead then joined a collective sleep for eight innings. The Orioles managed only two hits during the stretch. The bottom two-thirds of the order, the source of much recent offense, was only 1-for-14 entering the ninth.

Angels relievers Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Rich DeLucia and Troy Percival combined to pitch one-hit ball over the last 3 1/3 innings.

Good pitching usually stops good hitting. Last night mediocre left-handed pitching did the job. Washburn was the first left-handed starter to face the Orioles since the New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte July 3. It showed.

After threatening to oust Washburn during a two-run first inning, the Orioles reverted to their big-swinging, contact-optional ways. Three of the first four batters to face Washburn mashed hits. Five of the first seven reached base. But once Washburn got out of the inning the Orioles had no clue.

Washburn struck out the side in the second inning and faced only 15 hitters in a four-inning stretch. Even when the Orioles got aggressive with a rare base runner, it nearly turned catastrophic.

Emboldened by a 2-0 lead after Washburn hit him on the left leg, second baseman Roberto Alomar attempted a delayed steal with one out in the second inning.

Catcher Matt Walbeck's throw beat Alomar easily. But the heady Alomar deked shortstop Gary DiSarcina by pulling back his left arm on a headfirst slide.

Alomar snaked his right arm around and beat the tag. However, he jammed the last two fingers on his right hand with the maneuver and doubled over in pain for several minutes. Alomar remained in the game, but re-emerged from the dugout with his fingers taped, before departing in the seventh inning. His bravado went unrewarded when Eric Davis and Palmeiro struck out.

Rodriguez appeared as confused last night as he did unflappable in his previous start -- a six-inning effort that included only one hit and one walk against the Toronto Blue Jays. He lost pieces of the lead in the second and third inning, fell behind in the fourth and gave the Orioles their shortest start since June 28.

Angels right fielder Garret Anderson extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a leadoff double in the second inning. He hustled to third base when left fielder B. J. Surhoff bungled the ricochet from the wall. Alomar nearly averted a run when, despite playing back on the rim of the infield, he stopped a one-hop smash and held Anderson at third. Rodriguez, who got only one ground-ball out, then allowed Justin Baughman a sacrifice fly to deep right field.

Another double gave the Angels a tie in the third. With one out, Dave Hollins took Rodriguez into the left-field corner for a double. First baseman Darin Erstad followed with a flared hit over shortstop to score Hollins.

Rodriguez (1-3) continued to flounder in the fourth. With two outs and a runner at first, he walked Baughman then surrendered his third double to DiSarcina on a 1-2 pitch.

Baughman beat Alomar's relay from shallow right field when catcher Lenny Webster lost the ball while trying to make a swipe tag. Miller had seen enough and summoned Doug Johns for the first time in six days.

The Angels scored their fourth two-out run in the fifth, again with a double serving as catalyst. In a miserable power slump, first baseman Tim Salmon doubled and scored on Jim Edmonds' single.

Trailing 5-2, the Orioles got their first hit in 5 1/3 innings when Webster turned on a two-out fastball for his seventh home run.

Angels manager Terry Collins wasted no time pulling the rookie in favor of Hasegawa. Washburn left having retired 15 of his last 20 batters faced. The 5 2/3 innings represented the second-shortest outing of Washburn's nine starts.

The Angels padded the lead in the seventh against Alan Mills, turning two walks and a single into two runs. Norm Charlton's wild pitch and Matt Walbeck's sacrifice fly scored the runners. Craig Shipley's RBI double off Joel Bennett in the eighth closed out the scoring.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Edison International Field, Anaheim, Calif.

Time: 8: 05

TV/Radio: No TV/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: O's Mike Mussina (7-5, 3.67) vs. Angels' Omar Olivares (5-6, 3.97)

Pub Date: 7/19/98

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