Drabek starts, but losing doesn't stop Back from DL, pitcher hurt by Belle, Abbott homers as O's drop ninth in row, 9-5

September 02, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Doug Drabek wasn't given any promises last night, only the ball. For someone who watched a month go by without pitching, it wasn't a bad deal.

Unfortunately for Drabek and the Orioles, it didn't get any better from there. With 24 games remaining, they must wonder if it ever will.

Activated earlier in the day, Drabek lasted into the sixth inning and was charged with four earned runs. He allowed a homer to rookie Jeff Abbott leading off the fifth that moved Chicago ahead, Albert Belle continued his monstrous second half and the Orioles sputtered to another loss, 9-5, before 40,016 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (69-69) slipped to .500 for the first time since Aug. 1, when they ran off 10 wins in their next 12 games to entertain thoughts of the wild card. They're going in the opposite direction now, losers of nine in a row and 11 of 12. The streak matches their longest of the season.

Danny Clyburn contributed his first major-league RBIs with a game-tying two-run single in the fourth, Eric Davis hit his 25th homer in the sixth and Chris Hoiles added a two-run shot in the ninth. But Abbott already had given Chicago the lead for good by reaching the center-field bleachers, and Jeff Norton built on it the next inning by poking a two-run triple into the right-field corner off Jimmy Key.

Drabek also served up Belle's 42nd homer in the fourth inning, breaking Frank Thomas' club record. Belle took a strike, then jumped on a slider and launched it 393 feet to center for a 2-0 lead. He also walked three times, and his three-run double in the ninth off Armando Benitez gave him 337 total bases this season, breaking the White Sox record of 336 by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in 1920.

"He's in a zone right now," Abbott said of Belle, who refused to speak with reporters.

Drabek's removal after an intentional walk to Belle with one out in the sixth assured that he wouldn't go more than 5 1/3 innings for the first time since May 28. He also has only one win since that date. He had been on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1 with a strained left hamstring, and his lone appearance since then was a five-inning, pain-free rehab start at Double-A Bowie.

His last outing with the Orioles was in relief July 31 in Kansas City. He had started a week earlier against Oakland, getting bounced after 4 2/3 innings. The Orioles rallied to win that game and reach .500. They would return there last night, one loss away from going 0-6 on this homestand before flying to Seattle.

"I thought I threw pretty good," said Drabek (6-10). "Except for the curveball, a lot of things were working. I was happy with the way my legs felt, but it still comes down to we ended up losing the game."

Manager Ray Miller, who missed the game to be with his family in Ohio after the death of his father-in-law, said earlier this week that left-hander Doug Johns probably will start in Oakland Tuesday when a fifth starter is needed again. After that, he might choose between Drabek and Scott Kamieniecki.

It took only two batters for Drabek to fall behind. Ray Durham lined a single into left field, then raced to third when Drabek's pickoff throw skipped past Rafael Palmeiro. He scored on a grounder by rookie Mike Caruso. Drabek then squeezed a walk to Belle between two fly balls that pushed Lyle Mouton to the fence in right field.

The second, by Robin Ventura, began a string of eight consecutive batters retired by Drabek. He was going so well that Mouton lost a fly ball by Robert Machado leading off the third, then recovered in time to make the catch near the line.

Drabek's luck wouldn't hold up, but Jim Parque did long enough to get his second win over the Orioles in five nights. Chicago's rookie left-hander was replaced by Jaime Navarro after six innings, the same number he lasted while giving up only two runs on Thursday.

Parque retired nine of the first 10 batters, the exception a two-out single by Hoiles in the second. But trouble came in the fourth. Singles by Mouton, Palmeiro and Cal Ripken loaded the bases with one out, and Clyburn lined a two-out, two-run single to left. It was the second big-league hit for Clyburn, who started in left field so B. J. Surhoff could rest.

Surhoff pinch-hit for Mouton in the eighth, keeping alive his streak of appearing in every game. But typifying the club's frustration, he was ejected by plate umpire Eric Cooper in the ninth for arguing a called strike with two on and two outs. (Replays showed the 3-1 pitch was clearly outside.) Harold Baines completed the at-bat, flying to left on the next pitch.

"I guess when you're going bad those calls go against you. When you're going good it would have been ball four," said hitting coach Rick Down, who ran the club in Miller's absence. "It's a tough job being an umpire."

No tougher these days than being an Oriole.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7: 05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: White Sox's John Snyder (4-2, 5.00) vs. Orioles' Sidney Ponson (7-8, 5.51)

Tickets: About 1,500 remain

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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