Drabek starts, but losing doesn't stop Belle drives in 4 more as White Sox deal O's their 9th loss 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 reached base five times, and the Orioles sputtered to their ninth straight 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 11 of 12. The nine consecutive defeats matches their longest stretch of the season, from May 14-22.

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.

His removal after an intentional walk to Belle with one out in the sixth assured that Drabek 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 appearance with the Orioles was out of the bullpen 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.

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, presently on the disabled list with disk-related pain in his upper back.

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 that appeared on its way out when it left his bat, 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, holding out his arms while trying to find it, 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. He was hit on the left knee by a bouncer from Jeff Reboulet in the third, bringing trainer Herm Schneider from the dugout, then struck out Roberto Alomar to end the inning.

Trouble came in the fourth. Singles by Mouton, Palmeiro and Cal Ripken loaded the bases with one out. Hoiles struck out, but Clyburn lined a 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, ejected for arguing a call in the ninth, pinch-hit for Mouton in the eighth, keeping alive his streak of appearing in every game.

If only the Orioles could find a way to break the one that has flattened their playoff hopes.

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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