Royals steal 9-5 win K.C. record 8 steals, O's mental lapses lead to second loss in row

Red Sox lead grows to 10

Stolen bases tie most allowed by Orioles

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

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

With runners at first and second base and no one out in last night's third inning against the Kansas City Royals, Orioles second baseman Jeff Reboulet cleanly fields a ground ball, charges at the trailing runner, then inexplicably flips to first base to get the hitter instead. Both runners reach scoring position.

In the fifth inning, B. J. Surhoff stands on second base following a leadoff double. Cal Ripken grounds sharply to third. Surhoff, usually one of the most heads-up Orioles, runs into Terry Pendleton's tag at third base before Ripken is thrown out for a bizarre double play.

Neither were scored errors but both illustrated one of the Orioles' most embarrassing performances of a slipping season.

Possessing the game's worst home record, the going-nowhere Royals nudged the Orioles toward the same destination last night in a 9-5 decision before 35,144 at Kauffman Stadium. The Orioles' second consecutive loss dropped them to 55-55 and 10 games behind the Boston Red Sox in their pursuit of the AL wild card.

The Royals set a team record with eight stolen bases, tying an Orioles club record for most allowed. It took them only six innings against adefenseless Chris Hoiles.

For a third straight game an Orioles starting pitcher floundered with Scott Kamieniecki the latest culprit. The offense managed three hits through six innings, too little against incompetent Royals pitching that surrendered seven walks, a hit batter and three wild pitches in the first four innings.

Royals third baseman Dean Palmer managed four RBIs for the second straight game and Jose Offerman extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a game-winning single in the fifth inning.

The Orioles reached Royals out-of-control starter Pat Rapp for one run during a 37-pitch first inning that included two walks, a hit batter and a flared single by Reboulet one pitch after he had squared to bunt on a 3-1 count. The run scored on a two-out wild pitch. He escaped by striking out three left-handed hitters.

Rapp begged the Orioles to take control of the game early but the invitation was declined. Two walks in the second inning brought nothing.

Kamieniecki (2-4) added to the Orioles' recent rotation woes with a troubled four-inning start that included unchecked base running, three walks, five hits and a monstrous three-run homer by Palmer. The start was Kamieniecki's second since leaving the disabled list after a two-month absence due to a herniated disk. Combined with the previous struggles of Jimmy Key and Scott Erickson, the last three starts have resulted in 13 earned runs in 10 total innings.

The Royals tied the game in the first inning without a hit. A leadoff walk to Johnny Damon was followed by a stolen base, a wild pitch and Palmer's RBI grounder. Kamieniecki escaped the inning only because a wild pitch ricocheted from the backstop to Hoiles, who threw to the pitcher to get Offerman at the plate.

Palmer's two-out, three-run homer in the third gave the Royals a 4-1 lead. Reboulet's mental lapse on a Hal Morris ground ball punctuated the inning. Kamieniecki reacted to the misplay by throwing up his arms in disgust. Two hitters later, the rest of the Orioles had the same reaction to Palmer's bomb.

Trailing 4-1, the Orioles gained a tie in the fourth inning when Hoiles mashed a two-run homer, his fourth in four games, and Mike Bordick scored on a walk, two wild pitches and a squeeze bunt by Reboulet.

Kamieniecki slogged through the fourth inning but was lifted when Damon ripped his 85th pitch for a double to lead off the fifth. Doug Johns relieved and allowed Offerman's game-breaking single. Offerman then drove the inning with steals of second and third before scoring on Pendleton's single.

The Kansas City Athletics ran wild against the Orioles on Sept. 27, 1965. Offerman's four steals tied a record for most steals by an individual. Chad Curtis last accomplished the feat April 17, 1993.

Down 6-4, the Orioles' best chance for a reversal came in the seventh. It ended with another lost opportunity and Surhoff slipping deeper into a nightmarish game.

Royals shortstop Mendy Lopez created an opening when he kicked Bordick's leadoff grounder. Rafael Palmeiro then singled and Eric Davis followed with an RBI single to extend his career-high hitting streak to 19 games.

Davis' RBI made him the first Oriole ever to have 10 or more RBIs in three consecutive calendar weeks. Davis has exactly 10 RBIs the last three weeks.

Having already struck out with the bases loaded and committed the fifth-inning base-running gaffe, Surhoff then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Cal Ripken completed the missed chance with a grounder to third.

The Royals piled on with Offerman's fourth stolen base in the seventh. It led to the Royals' second run without benefit of a hit. Second base umpire Rocky Roe made a pivotal call on Pendleton's one-out grounder when he ruled Palmeiro's throw to second base did not beat Palmer. Given an extra out, the Royals scored for a 7-5 lead on Jeff King's sacrifice fly.

Orioles today

Opponent: K.C. Royals

Site: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 2: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: O's Sidney Ponson (4-6, 5.96) vs. Royals' Glendon Rusch (6-13, 5.74)

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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