O's come up empty, 5-0

Big bats fall silent, 8 stranded in loss to Saberhagen, Red Sox O's milestones go for naught

Valentin HR key blow

Guzman: 9 K's in 5 2/3

June 24, 1999|By JOE STRAUSS | JOE STRAUSS,SUN STAFF

New Englander Mike Bordick and the ancient left-hander, Jesse Orosco, asked for a ball. Pants legs pulled high for that "speed look," Brady Anderson embraced a base.

Each reached personal milestones worthy of celebration last night, except the Boston Red Sox laid a 5-0 loss on the Orioles before 45,086 at Camden Yards behind a shrewd performance by Bret Saberhagen.

Given home runs by John Valentin and Reggie Jefferson, the Red Sox interrupted the Orioles' recent surge with a three-man eight-hitter. After entering with a .319 average this month, the Orioles endured 1-for-12 hitting with runners in scoring position, stranded eight runners, including six at second or third base, and saw another thrown out attempting to score.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, improved upon their league-best ERA as Derek Lowe and closer Tim Wakefield followed with 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief. Small wonder the Red Sox lead the AL in earned run average.

Still pitching with stitches in his foot after stepping on glass, Saberhagen (3-2) won for the first time since April 13.

"It hasn't been two years since my last win but it certainly feels like it," said Saberhagen, the Red Sox's No. 2 starter on Opening Day and a 15-game winner last season. "It doesn't feel like I've been a big part of it so far, but there is certainly time to make up for it."

The Orioles lost for the second time since June 9 while Bordick produced his 1,000th career hit in the first inning; Anderson tied the franchise record with his 252nd steal as an Oriole in the third; and Orosco produced one out with four pitches in the eighth, his 1,050th career relief appearance, tying him with Kent Tekulve for the all-time lead.

"I'm ecstatic," said Orosco, who got here after 20 years and five franchises. "It means a lot. When you're in the company of someone like Tekulve, it's a big deal."

It was Saberhagen who commanded the night while making his first start since June 7.

"It got real quiet after three or four innings," said manager Ray Miller. "Guys were just looking at the hitting coach like, `What are you going to do with that?' He was awesome.

"The guy's got his shoulder held together by a fishhook and he's still got tremendous control. He's a great pitcher. He was shot and nobody wanted him but he got himself healthy for this run. He's a big-game pitcher. If he's healthy, you want him out there."

Saberhagen underwent major shoulder surgery in 1995. He has been on the disabled list twice this season. Yet he hasn't walked a right-handed batter this season and last night prevented the Orioles from pulling within 6 1/2 games of the wild-card leaders.

The shutout loss was the 32-38 Orioles' fourth this season (the first since April 24), represented only their second defeat in 13 games and ended a four-game win streak. The lack of offensive support punished Orioles starter Juan Guzman (3-6), who suffered the loss for surrendering Valentin's two-run homer in the fifth inning.

A three-run ninth inning against Ricky Bones blew the loss out of proportion. However, the Orioles hardly resembled the team that had hit .319 while averaging 6.4 runs in 19 previous games this month. They stranded runners in scoring position in six of the first seven innings, managed a scoreless three-hit inning and were again baffled by a Red Sox starting pitcher.

The Orioles have split the first two games despite managing only 10 hits and one run in 11 2/3 innings against Pat Rapp and Saberhagen.

"It's a lot different pitching in a close game like that," Guzman said. "You want to leave with your team in the game. But it's much more difficult when your team is not scoring runs. You feel like you have to be more fine. Every pitch has to be a good one."

Guzman's starts are rarely smooth rides. Last night he struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings and allowed only four hits. But the start included 110 pitches, two of which hit Nomar Garciaparra and Darren Lewis.

He walked four, including Lou Merloni and Trot Nixon in the sixth inning to force his manager from the dugout to summon Scott Kamieniecki with two outs and the bases loaded.

With two on and one out in the first inning, Tuesday night's hero and a career .368 hitter against Saberhagen, right fielder Albert Belle this time snuffed the rally by bouncing into a 3-6-3 double play.

While Guzman escaped unscathed from Lewis' triple to center field to lead off the game, Saberhagen allowed runners to reach scoring position with less than two outs in each of the first three innings. Each time the Orioles fell back.

In the third, Anderson reached on a one-out error and stole his record-tying base. Two fly balls sent him nowhere.

Saberhagen wobbled most noticeably in the fifth inning but this time received an assist from third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's daring, Cal Ripken's methodical speed and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek's road block at the plate. The combination allowed him to escape the inning unscored upon despite surrendering three hits.

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