Jays extend O's slide in East, 6-5

Run off Rhodes in 10th hands O's 6th straight loss, all in division

Hairston gets 4 hits

O's rally from 5 down

tie it with 2 out in 9th

June 30, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- A five-run rally and a four-hit breakout by rookie second baseman Jerry Hairston weren't enough last night to prevent the Toronto Blue Jays from taking a 6-5, 10-inning win over the Orioles.

Left fielder Shannon Stewart's two-out single off Arthur Rhodes (3-3) sent the Orioles to their sixth straight loss, all to opponents ahead of them in the American League East. Coming after the Orioles had tied the game with two outs in the ninth on Jeff Conine's double, the loss included four unearned runs in a five-run first inning and a third straight traumatic outing for Rhodes, who surrendered the game-winning hit on a shot between Cal Ripken and the third base line with a runner on third.

Hairston helped the Orioles with two doubles and a stolen base -- all in his 11th major-league game and fourth start this season. But the Orioles again were left to explain a loss that came despite 12 hits, two home runs and a string of eight consecutive shutout innings thrown by four pitchers.

At least starting pitcher Juan Guzman received some justice. The Orioles scratched for an unearned ninth-inning run against Blue Jays rookie closer Billy Koch to erase a potential loss from Guzman's seven-inning line.

The Blue Jays literally dropped a 5-4 lead in the ninth when first baseman Carlos Delgado muffed Koch's lob of Mike Bordick's sacrifice bunt. The extra out allowed

Conine to line a two-out double that scored Brady Anderson for a 5-5 game.

Scored upon in the first inning for the third game in the last four, the 32-43 Orioles watched Toronto's one-run rally mushroom into five after first baseman Will Clark kicked a two-out grounder by Tony Fernandez. No runs scored on Clark's error; however, Guzman quickly allowed an RBI single to Darrin Fletcher before shortstop Tony Batista unloaded his sixth home run, a three-run shot that built a 5-0 lead before the Orioles batted a second time.

The Orioles have now led one-half inning in their last four games. The six-game losing streak matches their two longest of the season.

Guzman did a poor job of containment but has now been bitten by six unearned runs in his last three starts.

The game turned early against him in the first inning, even after right fielder Albert Belle helped out by throwing out Shawn Green attempting to go first to third on Delgado's RBI single. With two outs and Delgado at second, Fernandez skipped a grounder to Clark, who suffered a fractured thumb the last time he played on this field. The ball ricocheted off the first baseman's glove beneath him. Clark turned, groped twice for the ball but could never get a grip. Fernandez reached without a play being made.

Fletcher and Batista turned the mistake into four unearned runs.

Batista reached base four times, including in the third inning on Ripken's ninth error. This time Guzman got the third out before being hurt further.

Threatened with a blowout, the Orioles responded with a four-run third inning that featured 12 total bases and back-to-back home runs by B. J. Surhoff and Belle within a four-pitch span. The home runs gave the Orioles 86 in their last 53 games.

Consecutive doubles by Hairston and catcher Charles Johnson represented the first damage to Hentgen, who received no-decisions in two previous starts against the Orioles this year despite allowing nine earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. Surhoff and Belle then followed with two-out blasts. Surhoff drove his 17th home run into the second deck to force a 5-3 game.

Perhaps readying himself for a second-half offensive push, Belle followed Surhoff by adding another line to his reputation as a herculean power hitter. On a 2-0 count, he punished Hentgen's pitch to dead center field. The drive didn't crest until it cleared the fence then glanced off the glass overhang of the SkyDome's Windows restaurant. Only Plexiglas prevented several patrons from receiving an oversized crouton in their dinner salad.

When not crafting petitions to boycott exhibition games or blasting minor-league security guards, Belle has been more consistent at the plate. The home run, Belle's 16th, was also his fifth during the span.

Belle has hit in nine of his last 10 games, driving in 10 runs. Last night marked Belle's first multiple walk game since May 23.

Hairston's breakout occurred in only his fifth major-league start and only two days after he collected his first major-league hit. Increasingly prone to looking toward the longer term, the Orioles noted it.

"With the number of veterans we have on this team and the degree of expectations that surround this club, you almost have to be an impact player when you walk through the door," said Miller. "He's shown that he can do a lot of things well. He may have been rushed here a little bit last year, but he has the kind of ability that opens those doors. It's exciting to see."

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