O's, Davis see streaks end, 5-3 Indians score 3 in 7th, salvage last of 4 games

outfielder goes hitless

O's settle for 7-3 road trip

Rallies in 8th, 9th fail, as does Smith in relief

August 17, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- A win meant great. A loss meant very good. That was how manager Ray Miller defined a 10-game road trip that capped a stretch of 16 of 18 games away from Camden Yards.

The Orioles settled for very good.

Three innings away from their first four-game road sweep of the Cleveland Indians in 27 years, the Orioles fell, 5-3, behind overextended starting pitching, two failed late-inning rallies and a club-record hitting streak that perished.

The loss before a Jacobs Field crowd of 43,069 and a national television audience left the Orioles with a 7-3 road swing and a seven-game deficit separating them from Boston in the AL wild-card chase.

Scott Kamieniecki (2-5) carried a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning but never recorded an out, instead walking the first two hitters, who eventually came around to score the tying and winning runs off reliever Pete Smith.

Afterward, Miller clung to his description of the trip as "a good one 8-2 would have been great, especially because it would have meant a game."

The Orioles ended their brutal 18-game stretch 13-5, winning four of five road series on the way. The loss sent them home contemplating a schedule that has 23 of 39 remaining games at Oriole Park.

A four-game win streak wasn't the only casualty. Right fielder Eric Davis' 30-game hitting streak perished in an 0-for-3 struggle against Indians starter Jaret Wright and sidearming reliever Steve Reed. Davis struck out swinging three times, walked once and settled for one of the game's 36 longest streaks ever.

Davis stood patiently on deck when Rafael Palmeiro flied out to the left-field warning track with the bases loaded to end the game. Miller hugged him as he descended into the dugout, reminding him of what he had accomplished. "It was a beautiful thing to watch. I'm proud of you," Miller said.

The 65-58 Orioles took series from Minnesota, Tampa Bay and the defending American League champions. They celebrated a historical event Friday night when catcher Chris Hoiles became only the ninth player in major-league history to hit a pair of grand slams in the same game. Scott Erickson gave them a five-hit shutout last Wednesday. A six-man bullpen effort allowed them to rally from a 4-0 deficit on Thursday. The Orioles did what good teams do. They drew on different corners of their clubhouse to find ways to win.

The Orioles batted .304 while scoring 70 runs on the 10-game trip. "With a break here and there, we could have won them all," said Davis. Of their 115 hits, 39 were for extra bases, including 15 home runs. Brady Anderson hit in every game. Davis hit in nine. Only twice were the Orioles held without a home run and six times they managed at least 10 hits. Their pitchers compiled a 3.87 ERA.

"After the first half, who would have thought we would be this close? But here we are," said Roberto Alomar. "We beat a very good team. Nobody comes into this place and beats these guys. They are a very good team. But we've shown we are a very good team also."

Instead of locking up a late lead last night, the Orioles lost to a three-run seventh inning that began with two walks.

Kamieniecki was denied a shot at his first win since April 18 after shepherding a 3-2 lead through six innings. He punished himself by walking Travis Fryman and David Justice to lead off the seventh.

"We went to him three times and asked if he was OK. He said he was fine. I probably should have gotten him after the first hitter when he missed four times," Miller said.

Instead, Kamieniecki (2-5) turned over the mess to Smith and watched the game disintegrate.

Smith entered with 11 consecutive scoreless appearances and a 1.08 ERA out of the bullpen, but he could not put down the Indians rally. A botched bunt brought up catcher Sandy Alomar, who doubled Smith's 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner to score Justice with the tying run and leaving the go-ahead run at third.

Needing a ground ball, Smith instead surrendered a deep fly ball to second baseman David Bell that gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead.

"That was the big pitch," said Kamieniecki. "On 0-2, if he makes a pitch there it's different. I put him in a bad position."

Miller then summoned left-hander Jesse Orosco, whose magic against left-handed hitters evaporated when Lofton grounded a single, scoring Alomar to make it a 5-3 game.

The lightning reversal marked the eighth time the Orioles have lost when leading after seven innings. It also dented a remarkable game by DH Harold Baines.

Baines, who three days before became the all-time RBI leader among designated hitters, doubled and scored on B.J. Surhoff's sacrifice fly in the second inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

Fryman reached Kamieniecki for his 23rd home run in the bottom of the inning, leaving Baines to return in the fourth to provide another lead. Davis walked with one out before Baines hammered an 0-2 pitch for his seventh home run. Baines has 43 RBIs in his last 56 games.

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