3 Sox HRs crash O's party, 9-3

7-game win streak ends as O's revert to early-season form

5 errors, pitching hurt

Konerko slams Orosco to bust open 5-3 game

June 18, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The American League's two hottest teams collided last night at Comiskey Park. To coin a phrase, something had to give. The Orioles volunteered.

Seeing their seven-game win streak end, the road-weary Orioles handed the Chicago White Sox five errors, a troubled start by Juan Guzman, another disconcerting appearance by reliever Jesse Orosco and ultimately a 9-3 decision before a crowd of 16,496, many of whom came to taunt Albert Belle upon his homecoming.

Home runs by Magglio Ordonez, Chris Singleton and Paul Konerko accounted for seven White Sox runs. Poor defense provided them the other two. The Orioles never completely solved White Sox starter Mike Sirotka and played behind throughout despite 12 hits, four by shortstop Mike Bordick.

Guzman (3-5) lost for the first time since May 10. The Orioles lost for the first time since a doubleheader sweep at Florida June 8.

Belle's return to the South Side featured two singles but was lowlighted by a groundout to end a budding seventh-inning rally and a bases-loaded foulout to end the game. The Orioles reached Sirotka for 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings but lost several outs on shots to Comiskey's deepest confines. The Orioles' top five hitters were a combined 11-for-23.

"I thought we had a real good approach off Sirotka," said manager Ray Miller. "We had 10 hits off him. We hit a lot of line drives right at people with men on base. But there were errors and we gave up too many hits."

The White Sox are now 11-5 this month. Despite the loss of Belle, last year's offensive centerpiece, the White Sox are seven wins ahead of last season's pace. "Team baseball is how we justify where we are," said manager Jerry Manuel. "Coming into the season it's what we stressed, and it's good to see it in our play."

Counting the days, the Orioles are winding up a stretch in which they play 29 of 42 on the road.

"We're away for a week, go home for three, then go away for a week," Miller said. "If a guy's got family, he doesn't get much rest. You try to spend as much time as you can with your family and then you're playing a 3: 05 game on the third day. Some of the coaches were talking about being a little stiff today. But those aren't excuses. You've got to do it. We had our chances."

During the winning streak they batted .365 with 52 runs and 13 home runs while their previously overmatched pitching staff compiled a 1.69 ERA while refusing to allow a home run.

"I think that the last 10 days or two weeks we've been playing very sound baseball. Tonight we had a few errors that were a little on the ugly side," first baseman Will Clark said. "Still you look at the big picture. Up until the seventh inning it was a two-run game. The way we've been swinging the bat I'll take a two-run game in the seventh."

Guzman, a hot-weather pitcher left stiff by last night's 50-degree weather, was attempting to extend a personal streak of six starts without a loss that included a 5-0 shutout of Atlanta June 12. Guzman had never pitched consistently well at Comiskey Park, going 2-5 with a 5.01 ERA in eight previous starts.

This time he held the White Sox for only three hitters before a home run by Ordonez -- the first in 10 games off the Orioles -- gave Chicago a 1-0 lead it wouldn't surrender.

Another tendency -- the Orioles' ability to limit innings -- was trashed during the White Sox's three-run fourth.

Left fielder Carlos Lee led off with a double over left fielder B. J. Surhoff. Center fielder Chris Singleton immediately followed with a home run that cleared the right-field wall for a 3-0 lead.

The White Sox weren't done. And neither was the Orioles' slipshod defense.

A one-out single by Konerko reignited a rally. Second baseman Ray Durham then slapped a two-out single that Belle overran for an error, allowing Konerko to take third. Guzman allowed shortstop Mike Caruso to snap an 0-for-17 slump with a single that scored Konerko for a 4-0 lead.

While Guzman was interrupting the Orioles' recent pitching trends, Sirotka (6-6) was spoiling their recent offensive fun.

Though he only narrowly escaped a bases-loaded scare in the first inning, Sirotka's first real misstep came in the fifth inning when Bordick singled with two out and Surhoff extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games with a home run driven 425 feet to center field. The home run was Surhoff's seventh of the streak and left him with 16 RBIs in the span.

Playing short -- second baseman Delino DeShields was in Atlanta to attend the birth of his third child -- the Orioles lost catcher Charles Johnson in the fifth inning after he was struck by a foul ball. The loss of Johnson immediately created defensive problems. Mike Figga was called for catcher's interference in the fifth inning and picked up a second error in the sixth when he threw into center field on Durham's steal. (Johnson and Figga were charged with three errors.) Durham eventually scored an unearned run worth a 5-2 lead on Caruso's deflected ground ball.

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