Mariners crash O's party, 10-4 5 unearned runs deal second straight loss in wild-card turnaround

'It's going to be uphill'

Reboulet error costly

series streak ends at 5

July 27, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The thumping sounds coming from Camden Yards yesterday were caused by a few more people jumping off the Orioles' bandwagon. Two straight losses may not touch off a panic, but they'll bring some leaps of lost faith.

The Seattle Mariners scored five unearned runs off Scott Erickson in the third inning and piled on from there, taking a 10-4 victory before 48,199 that denied the Orioles their sixth consecutive series win.

A two-out error by Jeff Reboulet in the third opened the gates and the Orioles (52-53) couldn't repair the damage. They got three back in the bottom of the inning on a single by Eric Davis and B. J. Surhoff's 15th homer, but fell below .500 and another game behind Boston for the wild card.

The Orioles lost consecutive games for the first time since getting swept in New York before the All-Star break and now trail the Red Sox by nine. After showcasing their Triple-A talent in today's Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, N.Y., they'll head to Detroit for the start of a six-game trip that includes a stop in Kansas City and takes them past Friday's trading deadline, when players must pass through waivers before being dealt.

Club officials have said they'll stay the course, continuing to push toward the wild card rather than breaking up baseball's most expensive team to stockpile prospects. But they were reminded of the difficult task at hand. Though winners of five of their last seven, and 14 of 17, the Orioles have lost ground to Boston two straight days.

"It's going to be uphill," said manager Ray Miller. "Obviously, we've got to win ballgames and we need Boston to lose. We

need Toronto to lose, we need the [Anaheim] Angels to lose. We need a lot of people to lose."

"It's not easy," Reboulet said. "Obviously we've dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we've also started to fill it up a little, too. This is a setback, but you play one at a time. You can't look back and say, 'Well, we won this many in a row and we've lost this many in a row.' You have to forget those games and look ahead. You can't win five games in one day."

At times, it has seemed as though Erickson (11-8) has done just that. Yesterday he absorbed only his second defeat since May 31. The most recent had been July 5, the last game before the break, when the Yankees' David Cone won a 1-0 duel in New York.

The league leader in complete games, Erickson threw 100 pitches in five innings, his shortest outing since going 3 1/3 on May 6 in Cleveland. Seattle also stole four bases off him, twice not drawing a throw from Lenny Webster. The Mariners tied a franchise record with five steals, three by Ken Griffey.

"Scottie was due to have a rough day. It looked like he overthrew and got the ball up. This is a very unforgiving lineup," Miller said.

"I wouldn't say I was due for one," Erickson said. "I just didn't

have a real good slider today, and once I got two strikes on someone I couldn't put them away. I was a little wild. I just had trouble throwing strikes all day long."

The Mariners sent nine batters to the plate in the third. Given a nibble on Reboulet's error, they made pigs of themselves.

John Marzano lined a double to left field with one out in the third. He advanced on Joey Cora's groundout, then scored when Alex Rodriguez sent a bouncer toward the middle that skipped under shortstop Reboulet's glove, only his second miscue of the season. He committed another with a wide throw in the ninth.

Reboulet charged Rodriguez's ball and anticipated a hop that never came. "I didn't get real close to it, but that's the way it goes," he said. "Alex can run a little bit and I couldn't lay back on it so I had to go get it, and it didn't bounce where I thought it was going to bounce."

Rodriguez stole second and third. Erickson walked Griffey for the second time, not a bad move considering the nine-time All-Star was hitting .418 with four homers against him. Griffey swiped second and both runners scored on Edgar Martinez's single to center.

Former Oriole David Segui (4-for-5) worked the count full before doubling off the scoreboard in right, and Jay Buhner ripped a two-run double into center for a 5-0 lead. Erickson had gotten ahead of Buhner 0-and-2, missed outside with a fastball and was hammered on the next pitch.

More trouble was brewing in the fifth, and this time it was all Erickson's doing. Seattle loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. Erickson got two strikes on Shane Monahan, then threw an 0-and-2 slider that the rookie lined off the base of the right-field wall for a 7-3 lead.

Davis' third-inning single had scored Reboulet, who doubled with one out, and extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Surhoff jumped on a slider that hung over the plate, making him 16-for-38 with three homers lifetime against former Oriole Jamie Moyer (8-7).

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