Mariners pour it on O's, 12-5

Seven-run spree in 8th assures victory, hands Orioles 3rd loss in row

Safeco record drops to 0-9

DeShields' error, botched pickoff throw among key mistakes

May 31, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - A team that needs to do little things correctly, the Orioles did much wrong last night against a team that has done everything right this season. A starting pitcher who walked six, a rookie catcher who committed a costly throwing error while being picked for four stolen bases and a left fielder who whiffed on a late-inning fly ball contributed heavily to the Seattle Mariners' 12-5 win over the Orioles before 34,757 at Safeco Field.

To say this wasn't the Orioles' finest hour would be incorrect. More accurately, it was nearly four of their worst hours this season."

Don't believe the final score. The Orioles squandered early chances before giving away outs and bases like candy late.

As punishment for their early missed opportunities, the Mariners buried the visitors beneath an avalanche of mistakes, stolen bases and doubles. It ended with deposed closer Ryan Kohlmeier looking helpless during a seven-run eighth inning in which the Mariners raked him and cleanup man Chad Paronto for seven hits and 17 total bases before they could get a second out.

"We couldn't put anything together," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "We couldn't really get anything really going off [Mariners starter John] Halama. We had seven or eight hits and still had only two runs. We couldn't bunch any hits. In the seventh inning we were in the game but things kind of fell apart there."

Strange but true: It was 2-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning when the toll came due.

Mariners third baseman David Bell overcame an early 1-0 deficit with a second-inning home run and broke a 2-2 tie with a splintered sixth-inning single. Given a leadoff error by left fielder Delino DeShields, the Mariners padded their lead in the seventh with one walk, a single, two stolen bases and a couple fly balls.

The Orioles' third straight loss dropped them to 0-9 in three trips to Safeco. Jason Johnson (4-3) was beaten by the first of three unearned runs surrendered by a defense that had allowed only 20 in 50 games. But two of the runs began as walks.

"I'll take responsibility for that loss. I made some mistakes that got us beat," Johnson said. 'Six walks is too many. Two of those walks scored. To me, that was part of the difference."

Catcher Fernando Lunar, starting in place of Johnson's catcher of choice, Brook Fordyce, couldn't stop Mariners left fielder Mark McLemore from stealing a club record-tying four bases in seven innings. Lunar's sixth-inning throwing error on a bizarre pickoff attempt also led to the Mariners' go-ahead run.

Ahead 5-3, the Mariners broke out in the eighth inning with seven runs, four doubles and back-to-back home runs by first baseman John Olerud and Bret Boone. Kohlmeier, in danger of being optioned with the approaching return of Alan Mills, saw his ERA soar from 4.58 to 7.50.

Halama was anything but sharp early. Three of the first four, five of the first eight and six of the first 10 hitters to face him reached base. The left-hander even contributed to a second-inning jam with a defensive lapse that turned a double-play grounder into an opportunity for the Orioles to construct a big inning.

But instead of exploiting their early chances, the Orioles stumbled. A double play, a reluctance to advance runners into scoring position and an inability to find a clutch hit crushed them.

DeShields led off the game with a single and immediately stole second base. David Segui's one-out single advanced him to third base. Halama pitched carefully to Jeff Conine, finally walking him, before Cal Ripken lined a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring DeShields for a 1-0 lead.

Halama's dull start spilled into the second inning, giving the Orioles a chance to build a three-run lead thanks to Melvin Mora's lead-off single followed by his Halama's error.

When Lunar grounded to the mound, Halama needed only to make a routine throw to second to begin a perfunctory double play against the team's most heavy-footed runner. However, Halama appeared to turn awkwardly and short-armed his throw, which skipped by the bag for an error.

Because of the game's early juncture, the profound slumps suffered by his top hitters or a belief in an approaching breakout, Hargrove allowed No. 9 hitter Jerry Hairston to swing away against Halama with none out.

Hairston had hit in 11 of 14 games, including a five-game hitting streak that perished Tuesday night, but also was a career O-for-28 against the Mariners.

Behind him, DeShields was riding a 13-for-69 skid followed by shortstop Mike Bordick, whose average had plummeted because of a 1-for-22 funk over his previous six games.

Hairston bounced to shortstop to begin a double play that left Mora at third base. DeShields walked and Bordick bounced into an inning-ending out.

Johnson outpitched Halama but failed to best him. Much of the reason stemmed from a calamitous mistake by Lunar in the sixth.

With Mike Cameron at first base because of a one-out walk, Johnson repeatedly threw to first base to check the runner. Lunar joined the campaign but his throw kicked away from first baseman Segui, giving Cameron the base they were committed to protecting. Lunar tried to fake Cameron by acting as if the ball had gone past him but his throw to first appeared to surprise Segui as much as the runner.

Bell reappeared with two outs to exploit the mistake. His broken-bat single to right field scored Cameron only because of the free base he had received.

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