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 allows 5th ER in last 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 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.

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 lined 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.

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

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 (34-48) 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. With the crowd restless from sitting through 105-degree heat and the anticipation of another bullpen meltdown, 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.

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.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning on a hit batter and two walks. Finding his command at just the right time, Erickson struck out No. 9 hitter Homer Bush.

Green's homer was the only hit Erickson allowed until Jacob Brumfield's one-out double in the fifth. When Erickson's stuff is good, he'll have batters beating the ball in the ground, which is what the next two hitters did. Unfortunately for him, Shannon Stewart brought in the go-ahead run with two outs when third baseman Cal Ripken had no throw after fielding a chopper that went about 20 feet up the line.

The Orioles had drawn even in the third against left-hander David Wells. Rookie Jerry Hairston, starting at second base for the 11th consecutive game, led off with his first major-league triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Charles Johnson, who got ahead 3-0 before taking Wells to the opposite field. Rich Amaral followed with a ground-rule double but was stranded.

Wells has been battling his own problems, allowing seven earned runs in consecutive starts. The last one came against the Orioles last Wednesday when he was spared a loss on Darrin Fletcher's three-run, ninth-inning homer off Jesse Orosco.

Fletcher, who hit another three-run homer off Orosco earlier this season, faced the left-hander again leading off the ninth inning last night. Manager Ray Miller brought in Orosco for Rhodes, a curious move that paid off when Fletcher flied to center. It was the only batter Orosco faced.

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