K.C. runs down O's in 9-5 win Lapses, 8 stolen bases, tying most off O's, lead to second loss in row

Red Sox lead grows to 10

Kamieniecki struggles

'everybody stunk'

August 02, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- So this is a contender?

On the same night Orioles mental mistakes occurred by the bushel, the Kansas City Royals ran for eight stolen bases en route to a 9-5 win at Kauffman Stadium. Remember the first half? The Orioles returned last night.

Second baseman Jeff Reboulet made a poor decision on a third-inning ground ball. B. J. Surhoff inexplicably ran into a fifth-inning double play. Starting pitcher Scott Kamieniecki (2-4) allowed five runs as the third consecutive Orioles starting pitcher incapable of getting more than 12 outs.

The loss left the Orioles 17-5 since the All-Star break, but also dropped them 10 games behind wild-card leader Boston. They are now in danger of being swept by a club that entered the weekend 19-36 at home.

"If we played two tonight we probably would have lost two. The bright side is it was only one game," said Kamieniecki.

Said manager Ray Miller: "We didn't pitch well. We didn't field well. We didn't run the bases well. We didn't throw good. We didn't get signs. We just played lousy."

Miller's terse comments included a promise to conduct a clubhouse meeting before today's series finale. "We've been on a pretty good roll. It's been a long trip. I don't know if people are tired or not. But that's no excuse," said Miller. "We've got to play better than that. Part of playing better is being mentally alert. Tonight, everybody stunk. We'll talk about it tomorrow and turn the page."

Better yet, rip it out and burn it.

"I thought we'd gotten past playing like this," said first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.

The poorly played 3: 36 marathon was more an embarrassment than a loss. Baseball's worst team at home destroyed a self-described contender by running wild. Third baseman Dean Palmer homered in his third straight game. He has five home runs and 11 RBIs in 26 at-bats this season against the Orioles. Center fielder Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer in the eighth to push the Royals' lead to four runs.

In the first four innings Kamieniecki and Royals starter Pat Rapp conspired for 10 walks, four wild pitches and a hit batter.

Kamieniecki got out of the first inning when a wild pitch ricocheted off the backstop to catcher Chris Hoiles, who flipped to him at the plate.

"Both sides weren't pitching. We couldn't get the ball over the plate and make them put it in play," said Kamieniecki, who walked three in four innings in his second start since returning from nearly two months on the disabled list.

Four of the Orioles' runs reached on a walk or an error. The Royals stole at least one base in six of the first seven innings until Lenny Webster replaced Hoiles in the eighth. Rapp allowed 10 base runners in four innings. Only two reached on hits.

Able to lead 1-0 and later rally from a 4-1 deficit, the Orioles (55-55) refused to get out of their own way. Surhoff suffered his worst night of the season.

His 1-for-4 game included a first-inning strikeout with the bases loaded, a curious base-running decision in the fifth and a rally-stifling double play in the seventh. With an already interminable game tied 4-4, Surhoff stood at second base following his leadoff double. Cal Ripken grounded sharply to third and Surhoff, usually one of the most heads-up Orioles, ran quickly enough into Terry Pendleton's tag at third base that Ripken could still be thrown out for a bizarre double play.

The Royals also attacked Hoiles relentlessly. Several times he didn't bother to throw. When he did, he failed to make a serious challenge on anyone.

The eight steals equals a 33-year-old club record set against the Orioles on Sept. 27, 1965, by the Kansas City Athletics. Jose Offerman's four steals tied a record for an individual opponent set by Chad Curtis in 1993.

"We know Hoiles doesn't have a real strong arm and we tried to take advantage of it," said Royals manager Tony Muser after the Royals set a club record for steals.

Hoiles was defenseless. Still irritated afterward, he waved off questions.

Kamieniecki, last year's league leader in pickoff attempts, served as co-conspirator. Asked about his degree of culpability, he said, "I've got no comment on that one."

Miller expressed irritation over Kamieniecki's role. After recently rehabilitating Hoiles' confidence, last night represented a jarring step backward. Of the Royals' nine runs, four stole their way into scoring position.

"Everybody who got on advanced and scored. We screwed up on the bases. We screwed up running and we screwed up signs. Basically we screwed up everything," Miller said.

"If they steal a few you're not too concerned about it because there's only so much you can do. A few of them shouldn't be there to begin with. If I'm walking them, there's no defense for that," Kamieniecki said.

Four of the stolen bases followed walks. Four occurred with Kamieniecki pitching, three with Pete Smith and one with Alan Mills.

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