Orioles trip ends with a 12-4 thud

Erickson pounded by Red Sox, loses his 10-5 trade status

`Stuck in a bad rut'

Surhoff's hit streak ended at 21 games

June 30, 2000|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Somehow, in the middle of all the trade speculation and confusion over his service time, Scott Erickson found a few hours last night to pitch for the Orioles.

He was better off dealing with the speculation and confusion. The game proved far more unsettling.

Looking for his first win in more than two weeks, Erickson allowed two long home runs in one of his shorter outings, and the Orioles didn't stir until the game had extended beyond their reach in a 12-4 loss before 33,612 at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (32-44) closed their 10-game road trip as it began, on the wrong side of the score. They went 2-8 but avoided last place in the AL East. Tampa Bay lost again yesterday, keeping the Orioles in sole possession of fourth. But they're now 10 1/2 games behind the surging Toronto Blue Jays, who venture into Camden Yards for a four-game series beginning tonight.

B. J. Surhoff's 21-game hitting streak, which had tied a career high, came to an end when he went 0-for-4. Three of those at-bats came against Boston's Tim Wakefield, who blanked the Orioles on six hits - all singles - in seven innings before Albert Belle chased him in the eighth with a three-run homer.

Wakefield was supported by three homers, including two from Brian Daubach that measured 845 feet. Daubach tied a career high with six RBIs and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle.

Erickson won't pitch again until Tuesday in New York, assuming he's still with the club. Each day seems to bring more intrigue.

The Orioles received a letter from Major League Baseball granting an extension to the deadline when Erickson attains 10-5 status. Club officials now have until midnight July 5 to arrange a trade without needing his approval.

His latest outing makes for a harder sell.

Daubach and Scott Hatteberg each slammed a three-run homer among the 10 hits allowed by Erickson, who threw 101 pitches in five innings. He walked three, hit a batter, uncorked a wild pitch and left with the Red Sox ahead 7-0.

"He had good velocity on his fastball but had no command of his pitches. He didn't locate his pitches well," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Scotty didn't warm up well, and it carried into the game."

Erickson has lost five of his past six decisions, failing to get beyond the sixth inning four times. He's given up 22 runs and 30 hits in his last three appearances covering 15 2/3 innings. Unable to make his first start until May 4 because of arthroscopic elbow surgery, he wakes up this morning with a 7.77 ERA.

"He's assured me that physically he's sound, so I've got to believe him," Hargrove said.

Nine of the first 17 batters reached, with Daubach leaving the biggest imprint on the game. Rookie Morgan Burkhart singled and Hatteberg walked with one out. Erickson got Jason Varitek to ground into a force before Daubach laid into a 1-0 pitch. Brady Anderson took a few steps toward left-center field before conceding the outcome. Estimated distance: 415 feet. Exact deficit: 3-0.

Erickson (3-6) gave up another run in the fourth on a single, hit batter and sacrifice fly. The game got away from him completely in the fifth when Hatteberg took him deep - very deep - fter Carl Everett singled and Burkhart reached on an infield hit with one out. Hatteberg's ball traveled 420 feet to center field.

Two more singles brought pitching coach Sammy Ellis from the dugout. Erickson retired Jose Offerman for the final out, in the leadoff hitter's fourth at-bat. Fourteen of 28 batters had reached. Hargrove had seen enough.

"I've thrown a couple balls pretty much center cut, and they've left the yard pretty quickly," Erickson said. "When things are going your way, they foul it off, and when things aren't falling into place for you, they turn around and go right past you. I'm kind of stuck in a bad rut, I guess. Some little thing happens and then I throw another log on the fire. I don't feel too bad mechanically right now. I will say the last few games I haven't thrown too many breaking balls, which is my decision. Just bad selection overall."

Erickson continues to insist the trade banter isn't becoming a distraction. "I haven't thought one bit about it. Last year I went through it for over two months. It's only rumors because you guys write it in the paper. I guess there's nothing else to talk about and it's worth your guys' ink. It's the last of my concerns. I go out and worry about my start every five days. It doesn't matter one way or the other. I still have to do the job."

He shows the same lack of interest in the 10-5 issue. "I wasn't about to worry about it or check the stats or whatever. My job's to pitch. I put all my energy into that. Unfortunately it's not working out very well right now."

Hargrove tweaked his lineup to find a competitive match for Wakefield's knuckler. The game ended with him still looking for one.

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