Bones cut short in A's 12-2 win

First O's start lasts 2 2/3 as club drops 6th in row

August 04, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The reliever didn't offer any help as a starter. His replacement couldn't provide much relief. Just a few added wrinkles to a disheveled season.

Needing to fill an opening in his rotation, Orioles manager Ray Miller handed Ricky Bones the ball and hoped for the best. He got something else -- the Orioles' sixth straight defeat, 12-2, before 10,878 at Network Associates Coliseum.

Miller already was dealing with Cal Ripken's return to the disabled list. He then was subjected to Bones' failure as a replacement for the departed Juan Guzman. Good news, to say the least, was scarce in the visitors' clubhouse.

Bones hadn't started since Sept. 27, 1997, while with Kansas City, when he went six innings to beat the Chicago White Sox.

The Orioles (46-60) gladly would have settled for Bones going that deep into last night's game. The farthest he had gone this year was 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Scott Erickson on April 20 in Tampa Bay, and Miller was aiming to get him through the fifth before turning the game over to Doug Johns.

The third proved difficult enough. Carrying a 2-0 lead to the mound, Bones allowed a run-scoring single to Jason Giambi and a three-run homer by Matt Stairs. In all, the A's collected five of their seven hits off Bones in the inning, and Johns was summoned with two outs.

"In the third inning I began elevating the ball and that's when they started to make better contact," said Bones. "It's hard to get something going in one start. I'd like to take a couple more shots and go from there."

Johns didn't fare much better. He coughed up four runs in the fourth, equaling the number scored by the Orioles in their three previous games.

Making his first appearance in six days, Mike Timlin completed the damage. Called on to get the last out of the eighth, he allowed Miguel Tejada's second three-run homer in two nights after a walk, Will Clark's error and a single.

Stairs has homered in three consecutive games, giving him 25 this season. The A's have taken someone deep in 23 of their last 24.

The victory moved Oakland (56-50) six games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 1995. It also improved their major-league-best home record to 36-16.

Bones (0-3), who's scheduled to start Sunday, still is searching for his first victory with the Orioles. He had given up at least one run in 12 of his last 17 appearances before last night, and had gotten into only two games since being activated from the disabled list on July 17.

He packed 60 pitches into his 2 2/3 innings last night. He stranded two runners in the first and another in the second. His luck, and an early lead, wouldn't hold up.

Brady Anderson, who continues to play with a painful left ankle, led off the first with a single. He moved to third on two groundouts and scored on Oakland rookie Tim Hudson's wild pitch.

The Orioles provided more of a cushion in the second. Jeff Conine reached on an infield hit with one out and scored on a triple by Delino DeShields, his first since September 1998.

Hudson (6-1) struck out Charles Johnson and retired Anderson on a sharp one-hopper to the mound. He wouldn't be bothered again.

Miller said: "We're not swinging real well and we're facing some good young pitching. That's not a good combination. We're in a losing streak. I want to turn it around. But we've got to pitch better and we've got to score some runs."

Hudson made two minor-league stops before joining the A's. It doesn't appear he'll be going back.

He was 3-0 at Double-A Midland, and 4-0 at Triple-A Vancouver before being promoted to the A's on July 7 and making his big-league debut the following day. Hudson's only loss in 22 professional starts this season came June 24 at Texas, when he allowed five runs in six innings. He went seven innings last night to win his fourth straight decision.

Though making only his 11th start in the majors, Hudson was tied for fourth among American League rookies with 65 strikeouts. His 2.42 ERA was second only to the Rangers' Jeff Zimmerman among AL rookies with 50 innings.

Oakland tried to reduce his deficit in the second inning, but Bones got away clean again. Eric Chavez doubled with two outs, beating the throw from Anderson after he managed to cut off the ball in the gap. Mike Macfarlane, a career .300 hitter in 243 at-bats against the Orioles, flied out.

A two-out walk to Albert Belle in the third nearly cost Hudson. Harold Baines doubled to right-center field, with Ryan Christenson slipping as he fielded the ball. Belle tried to score but couldn't beat the relay throw from shortstop Tejada. Christenson played because Tony Phillips was bothered by tightness in his hamstring.

Nothing seems to bother the A's, who continue to mount an unexpected challenge for the wild card. Christenson singled in the third inning and doubled off the center-field wall in the fourth.

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