Griffey gets best of O's, Mussina, 4-2

2-run double in 8th sparks 3-run rally against Orioles ace

O's end road trip 4-5

Base-running blunders negate 12-hit effort

June 03, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Last night the Orioles' road trip came down to a decision, a pitch, and, ultimately, another injustice for Mike Mussina.

After spending the early innings squandering outs on the bases, the Orioles capped a 4-5 road trip by losing, 4-2, to the Seattle Mariners thanks to a two-run, two-strike, two-out double by Ken Griffey, and manager Ray Miller's tacit vote of no confidence in his bullpen.

Mussina (7-3) held the Mariners to three hits through seven innings before he reached Griffey with runners at first and third in the eighth. Given Griffey's career 5-for-39 lack of success against Mussina, Miller stayed with his starting pitcher rather than go to left-hander Jesse Orosco.

On his 124th pitch, Mussina fed Griffey a 1-2 breaking ball that was driven to the left-center-field fence. Carrying the go-ahead run, Alex Rodriguez scored from first.

Mussina remained to walk Edgar Martinez and allow an RBI single to Butch Huskey that pushed the Seattle lead to 4-2.

The Orioles outhit the Mariners, 12-6.

The loss was the Orioles' fifth when leading after five innings, but it actually occurred early on when they lost base runners in the first, second and fifth innings.

Mike Bordick was picked off first with Albert Belle hitting in the first, Jeff Conine was picked off third in an abortive double steal in the second, and Brady Anderson was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from second on Bordick's two-out single in the fifth.

Despite outhitting the Mariners 10-3 through six innings, they nursed only a 2-1 lead.

B. J. Surhoff's two-out single in the third gave Mussina a 1-0 lead but the lost opportunities loomed as large as those taken.

The loss deprived the Orioles (20-32) of a winning road trip and left Mussina with two losses on it while receiving three runs of support.

The game contrasted the previous two, which produced a total 41 runs. There were several: a crisp matchup of Mussina and Mariners left-hander John Halama, who made his eighth major-league start; the Mariners' inability to stay out of double plays; and the Orioles' giveaway plan on the bases.

Mussina's success against the Mariners has become a given. He entered 10-1 against them in regular-season starts and 2-0 in the 1997 Division Series. In 15 career starts, he owned a 12-1 record and 3.62 ERA vs. Seattle. The Mariners, who had scored 21 runs the previous two nights, did not push a runner to second base through five innings.

Coming off a complete-game 2-1 loss at Oakland, Mussina exhibited a sharp-breaking knuckle-curve, a pitch that favors neither left- nor right-handed hitters. Though the Mariners managed five base runners the first five innings, Mussina faced only two more than the minimum 15 hitters.

Mussina overcame a questionable call that left him with his first error in nearly four years, a near catastrophe in the sixth inning and his offense's ability to do as lit- tle as possible with 10 hits in six innings.

Mussina sidestepped trouble in the second inning when he got Russ Davis to hit into the first of two double plays. Two innings later, following a leadoff walk to Rodriguez, Griffey mashed a drive to first base. Believing the ball was ticketed for the right-field corner, Rodriguez started for second base. However, Conine stepped in front of the ball to make the catch-and-touch for a rally-killing double play.

A 1-0 game threatened to erupt against Mussina in the fifth when the Orioles suffered a slight from first base umpire Mike Reilly. John Mabry grounded wide of first base, pulling Mussina from the mound to cover.

The play developed awkwardly as Conine waited for Mussina to get near the bag before throwing toward him. Mussina stabbed at the base with his right toe. However, Reilly, stationed behind the bag, ruled Mussina had missed the base and called Mabry safe.

Mussina immediately argued. Miller, fearing his pitcher was going to be ejected, got between the two and appeared to brush Reilly. Neither Mussina nor Miller was ejected but Mussina, a three-time Gold Glove winner, picked up his first error in 120 starts dating to Aug. 7, 1995, against the New York Yankees.

As quickly as it flared, the situation evaporated when Davis grounded into a second 4-6-3 double play.

The Orioles built their lead to 2-0 in the sixth with a two-out rally beginning with Conine's double and followed by Cal Ripken's single and another by designated hitter Rich Amaral for the RBI.

Amaral's RBI became even larger when Mariners catcher Dan Wilson reached Mussina for his second home run in as many games to lead off the bottom of the inning. The home run was the Mariners' ninth of the series.

With one out, Rodriguez reached with the tying run when Bordick booted his two-hop grounder, but Mussina retired Griffey and Martinez to end the threat.

Pub Date: 6/03/99

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