Angels' Anderson pounds O's

His 2 HRs off Erickson drive 4-1 O's defeat to begin West swing

Road mark falls to 4-16

O's 1st out scores run, then Olivares rules

May 26, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A promising opening 10 minutes to a nine-game road trip turned against the Orioles last night as Anaheim Angels center fielder Garret Anderson homered twice against Scott Erickson for a 4-1 win at Edison International Field.

Erickson (1-6) allowed only six hits in 7 1/3 innings but three were home runs -- to Anderson in the fourth and sixth innings, and to left fielder Darin Erstad in the eighth. The Orioles answered with only six hits against Angels starter Omar Olivares (5-3), who found himself trailing after three hitters but pushed on for eight innings.

Troy Percival pitched a scoreless ninth to gain the save, his third in as many games against the Orioles this season.

The loss dropped the Orioles to 16-28 overall and only 4-16 away from Camden Yards, the worst road mark in baseball. They also dropped a season-high 11 games out of first place.

Will Clark played his first game since fracturing his left thumb April 18 and went 0-for-4, with two groundouts and two flyouts for the Orioles.

"You give up three homers, you're not going to win a lot of games. That's the way it is," said Erickson. "I'm not into whether it's good or bad. I want to win games. That's the bottom line. I'd rather give up 10 runs and win than give up two and lose," Erickson said.

Erickson's only win remains a shutout of the Detroit Tigers on May 9. Erickson, who has suffered from indifferent support from his offense, defense and bullpen at times, sports a 3.62 ERA in five starts this month but has only split two decisions.

The three home runs against Erickson were half as many as he had surrendered in 54 previous innings this season.

Coming two days after the Orioles had savaged the Texas Rangers for a 15-6 win, including a 10-run first inning, the loss underscored the inconsistency of a team unable to reverse its season-long halting pattern.

The game took only 2: 01, testimony to both teams' first-pitch tendencies and the control of both starting pitchers. The loss was the 12th time this season the Orioles have been checked on three runs or fewer, but might have been different if not for a poorly handled first inning.

The Orioles jumped on Olivares as if they were bent upon a second straight 10-run first inning. Brady Anderson singled sharply to begin the game and took third when Mike Bordick rifled a double to the right-center-field wall.

But instead of following through, the Orioles were muted by a strong defensive play and another failure by cleanup hitter Albert Belle. Trying to extend a 14-game hitting streak, left fielder B. J. Surhoff was robbed of extra bases by Anderson's running catch going away from the plate. Both runners tagged, leaving Belle a chance to score the remaining runner from third.

Belle leads the American League in walks but has yet to lead his new team in RBIs. While manager Ray Miller and other club officials have talked around Belle's struggles, his inability to catch fire has created a drag on the middle of the lineup.

Belle entered last night hitting only .240 with runners in scoring position. He had driven in 18 of 50 runners in such situations, a decent percentage but not up to the standards he established before signing a five-year, $65 million contract with the Orioles.

Olivares got his most important out by forcing Belle to expand his strike zone. The strikeout carried the threat to Jeff Conine, who flied out to left field and left the Orioles an unfulfilling 1-0 lead.

For three innings Erickson made the first-inning run appear large.

The Angels were held hitless the first time through the order as Bordick threw out Chris Pritchett on a deflected grounder to end the second inning. The Angels' only base runner during the span was forced at second base.

While Erickson proved difficult to hit, Olivares also stiffened. The Orioles' bashing stopped, replaced by Olivares retiring 15 of 16 hitters. Anderson doubled with one out in the third but was stranded on groundouts by Bordick and Surhoff. Belle contributed the Orioles' only other hit through seven innings -- a two-out, bases-empty single in the sixth.

"You've got to tip your hat to Olivares. He threw strikes," said Miller.

"When I brought the ball down, everything was moving a lot better," Olivares said. "The first inning I left some balls up."

Garret Anderson turned the game in the fourth inning with his first home run, a drive off the center-field rock formation, immediately after Mo Vaughn had snapped Erickson's no-hit bid with a looping single to right field.

Down 2-1, the Orioles never placed the go-ahead run on base. Olivares, who had won only one of 10 previous starts against the Orioles, was helped along by plenty of first-swing outs. He walked Charles Johnson with two outs in the fifth and Delino DeShields with two gone in the seventh but escaped each inning against the next hitter.

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