CLEVELAND - A house that has been filled with horrors shouldn't seem quite so scary to the Orioles, even with all the ghosts swirling around it. Yet, somehow, it still does. The floor boards still creak, objects move by themselves, and players run screaming into the night - mostly out of frustration.
The stands at Jacobs Field weren't even half filled last night. Fans of the Cleveland Indians don't burst through the gates anymore to watch Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton or Albert Belle. They won't find Manny Ramirez or Sandy Alomar, either, and they needed a program to identify the starting pitcher, rookie Jason Davis, who began last season at Single-A.
Times are changing in Cleveland. But the Orioles' fortunes here always stay the same.
Left-hander Omar Daal allowed six runs before being ejected in the fifth inning for hitting Matt Lawton, and the Indians defeated the Orioles, 8-3, in front of 17,015.
The outcome lowered the Orioles' record to 11-32 at Jacobs Field, and it disturbed them on many levels. They lost a lead and their starting pitcher, who was perfect for three innings before falling apart. The pieces were scattered in the clubhouse, where Daal was banished by plate umpire Brian O'Nora.
Daal retired the first nine batters before the Indians scored four runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. Lawton crushed a three-run homer to complete the scoring, after Milton Bradley led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games and give Cleveland its first base runner.
Lawton remains a nuisance to the Orioles. He provided all the scoring on April 3 with a three-run shot off Rick Helling. He also hit a walk-off homer against closer Jorge Julio last May.
Last night, he was most responsible for Daal's exit. The Indians increased their lead to 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Ellis Burks and a double by Shane Spencer in the fifth. With first base open and one out, Daal threw inside to Lawton and hit him on the back.
O'Nora immediately signaled for the ejection, bringing heated arguments from Daal (0-2) and manager Mike Hargrove. Lawton retrieved the ball and flipped it to Daal, who tossed it to the ground and walked toward the dugout with his head lowered.
Pat Hentgen, pitching for the first time since April 4, threw a wild pitch to bring in another run. Daal was charged with seven runs, leaving his ERA at 8.04. He has made three starts for the Orioles since signing a two-year, $7.5 million contract in January. Consistency hasn't been an early trait.
The Indians collected nine hits off Daal, including Burks' single in the fifth that rolled under third baseman Tony Batista's glove after he took a few steps to his left. Spencer followed with his double before Lawton was hit on the next pitch.
Jerry Hairston homered for the Orioles (4-8), who are 2-4 on their road trip and remain in last place in the American League East. They're trying to avoid being swept in a three-game series in Cleveland for the second straight year.
Davis hadn't made it to the fifth inning in either start before last night, but he was a mystery to the Orioles. None of them had an at-bat against him in the majors.
They were at full strength because Jeff Conine returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game with a sore elbow. Conine was hit by a Steve Woodard pitch on Saturday, and the 78-mph curveball caused enough swelling to force him to the bench.
Back in the cleanup spot, Conine gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. He followed David Segui's double with one of his own, pulling the ball down the left-field line. Batista singled with two outs to score Conine.
The Orioles tried to build on the lead, but Batista was thrown out at the plate on B.J. Surhoff's double to center field. Bradley hit the cutoff man, Brandon Phillips, and catcher Josh Bard made a lunging tag on Batista, who was slow to round the bases and had no chance.
Surhoff stood on second base with his hands on his hips, wondering how a drive to the fence, and the deepest part of the ballpark, with two outs didn't result in a run.
Batista has been thrown out on the base paths in two of the past three games. Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez cut him down Saturday as Batista tried to stretch a single.
The Orioles already had bailed out Davis in the first inning, with their base running again becoming an issue.
Gary Matthews singled with one out, but he was thrown out at third base to complete an unusual double play. Segui's bouncer toward the mound was deflected to third baseman Casey Blake, whose throw to first retired the Orioles' designated hitter. Matthews kept running and was nailed at third on the throw by Travis Hafner.