Jays fly the coop on O's

4-3 loss in 10 innings drops Orioles' mark vs. Toronto to 1-10

Butler's single wins it

Timlin: 5th earned run in past 5 appearances

July 07, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles tried to turn back the clock last night, wearing retro caps that hadn't been in fashion in 10 years. What they got instead was another hard look at the present.

Given his only at-bat after being used as a pinch runner, Rob Butler punched a run-scoring single off Mike Timlin in the 10th inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 victory over the Orioles before 37,939 at Camden Yards who braved the stifling heat and another bullpen failure.

The loss was the Orioles' 11th in 13 games and left them 34-48 and 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Tampa Bay, which rallied to defeat Boston. It also lowered their record against the Blue Jays this season to 1-10 following a sweep at SkyDome last week, when Orioles relievers absorbed all three losses, including two in the 10th.

"Everybody says go with the hot hand, but you've got to get a hot hand," said manager Ray Miller.

Timlin (3-8) had struck out the only two batters he faced in the ninth, but Homer Bush led off the 10th with a single. He stole second with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch. With the infield drawn in, Butler grounded a single into left to score Bush and bring jeers from the crowd. It was the fifth earned run allowed by Timlin in his last five appearances.

"After I went 3-1 on Butler, I threw one low enough out of the zone where if he swings, he swings over it or hits it in the dirt. He hit it in the dirt and it just got between my fielders. I was expecting to walk him at that point and get another double play in order," Timlin said.

He said no consideration was given to walking Butler intentionally. "He's not a .400 hitter. That's not something you really do. I figured I could kind of pitch around him. The pitch was six inches off the ground. How he hit it, I don't know."

Blue Jays closer Billy Koch retired the side in the ninth for his 12th save, flashing a 101 mph fastball. The last out came on a fly ball from B.J. Surhoff, who went 0-for-5 to end his hitting streak at 12 games.

Miller called Timlin into his office after the game to offer some encouragement. "I was more impressed by him than in quite a while," Miller said. "It looked like he had a lot more poise and confidence. I liked his demeanor. He took his time and he looked a little more focused."

Said Timlin: "The whole time I pitched I got what I wanted. I hit my spots a lot. I liked what I did on the mound. The result obviously wasn't there but I did some positive things."

The Orioles had a chance to win it in the ninth when Cal Ripken singled off Graeme Lloyd with one out, moving past Frank Robinson into 27th place on the all-time hits list with 2,944. Brady Anderson walked, but Charles Johnson grounded into a double play to push the game into extra innings.

Seeking his first win in almost a month, Scott Erickson was given his only lead in the sixth when the Orioles scored twice, but shortstop Tony Batista homered off him in the seventh to tie the score, 3-3. He allowed the first two batters to reach in the eighth on a single and fielder's choice, when he unwisely tried for the force at second on a tapper to the mound and threw the ball into center field.

Arthur Rhodes replaced Erickson and walked left-handed hitting Shawn Green on five pitches to load the bases. Rhodes wiggled off the hook by getting Carlos Delgado to hit into a 6-2-3 double play and Tony Fernandez to ground to short.

"He probably wasn't too happy to come out," Miller said of Erickson, "but he was at the 120-pitch point and with Green and Delgado coming up I just felt it was the right spot. He gave us a good effort and really sawed some bats off. I thought he pitched much better tonight than he has been. But the bottom three guys in the order scored three runs and that's been our Achilles' heel all season."

Orioles starters succeeded in getting their ERA under 5.00 for the first time this season when Mike Mussina allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings against New York on Monday. Last night, it was up to Erickson to keep it there.

In the process, Erickson was trying for his first victory since June 14. His last three starts resulted in no decisions, with the bullpen blowing his 6-3 lead in his most recent outing. Before that, he had been scorched for a combined 13 runs and 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings.

He was pitching from behind early last night. The third batter he faced, Green, connected on a 2-2 fastball down the middle of the plate and sent it over the center field fence for his 24th homer and third in two games. Green is 8-for-22 with two homers against Erickson in his career.

Green's homer was the only hit Erickson allowed until Jacob Brumfield's one-out double in the fifth. Shannon Stewart brought in the go-ahead run with two outs when Ripken had no throw after fielding a chopper that went about 20 feet up the line.

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