Shortcomings cost O's, 5-4

1 run in eighth, 2 in ninth can't overtake White Sox

2 runners stranded at end

Tejada error costly in 3-run 7th

Offensive slump continues against White Sox

DeJean ineffective again, now 0-3

May 04, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

For the season's first 20 games, the Orioles felt they had a lineup that stacked up offensively with any team in baseball. They knew that didn't make them immune to a letdown, but if it was going to happen, they didn't expect it to come like this.

After scoring two runs in a pair of losses at Cleveland this past weekend, the Orioles managed just two hits in seven innings last night against Chicago White Sox left-hander Scott Schoeneweis.

Slumps like this can magnify a team's other problems, and the Orioles were exposed on two fronts last night, with the continuing struggles of their defense and right-handed reliever Mike DeJean.

Chicago broke a tie with three runs off DeJean in the seventh, as they capitalized on an error by Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada and then held off a late rally to claim a 5-4 victory before a paid crowd of 18,849 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles were sitting at 12-8 on Friday, when they began a stretch of four series against teams from the American League Central, which is considered one of the weakest divisions in baseball.

Three games into that stretch, the Orioles have been outscored, 19-8, and they have dropped six of their past eight overall.

The White Sox proudly took over sole possession of first place in that division last night with their eighth win in 11 games.

"It's very, very frustrating," DeJean said. "We have enough offense and defense to beat anybody. But when you're a little short on the mound, me in particular, it's just frustrating."

Schoeneweis (3-1) outlasted Orioles starter Kurt Ainsworth, who held the White Sox to one run on five hits over six innings. The Orioles managed just one hit out of the infield against Schoeneweis, a single by Rafael Palmeiro in the sixth.

The Orioles were 4-1 in their first five games against left-handed starters this season, but they have managed just three runs in 21 innings over the past three games against lefties Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia and Schoeneweis.

"I don't think you can look at this lineup and say we don't hit lefties," said Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. "They've all pitched well. Sometimes you have to tip your cap."

With the scored tied 1-1 in the seventh, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli turned to the right-handed DeJean (0-3) with a string of four right-handed hitters coming up for the White Sox.

DeJean has been the Orioles' most beleaguered pitcher this season, and the first three batters he faced went single, line out, single - putting runners at the corners with one out.

Mazzilli put his infield at double-play depth, and DeJean got Carlos Lee to hit a potential double-play grounder. Tejada had to make a tough play because the ball wasn't hit especially hard, but his sidearm throw went wide of Roberts at second base for an error - Tejada's fifth of the season.

Juan Uribe scored, and the runners advanced to second and third.

"You saw what happened," Tejada said. "I made a bad throw."

After walking one batter intentionally and striking out Joe Crede for a big second out, DeJean gave up two more runs, as Aaron Rowand reached on an infield single, scoring Frank Thomas, and Sandy Alomar walked, forcing home Chicago's fourth run.

Rowand's ball was another slow roller that went beneath the bare hand of Tejada, who tried to make a charging play. When Mazzilli pulled DeJean from the game, the scattered fans who were there braving the elements on a cold and damp night, booed him off the field.

"He got the ground balls when he needed them. They just weren't the right ground balls," Mazzilli said. "It's frustrating. It's not like he got hit around."

Said Roberts: "Mike's a bad scapegoat. There's no reason to point your finger at him."

The White Sox stretched the lead to 5-1 in the eighth, capitalizing on another error by Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora - his major-league-leading ninth of the season - and a wild pitch by reliever Rick Bauer.

But the Orioles came close to tying the game in the eighth inning and again in the ninth. After trimming the lead to 5-2 in the eighth, they had runners at first and second, when Javy Lopez hit a ball to the warning track.

Lee made the catch right in front of the 364-foot sign on the left-field wall.

The White Sox turned to closer Billy Koch in the ninth, and Mora hit a two-run single with two outs, bringing the Orioles within a run.

Tejada, who had two RBIs on the night, came up again and hit a sharp grounder, but Uribe, the White Sox shortstop, made a sliding grab and flicked to second base for the game-ending force out.

Tejada stood on first base with both hands on his head, as the White Sox congratulated themselves on claiming sole ownership of first place.

"Right now," Tejada said, "you can't point to anybody and say he lost the game. We all lost the game."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: White Sox's Esteban Loaiza (4-0, 3.71) vs. Orioles' Eric DuBose (3-2, 3.06)



No. Name Pos.

4 Earl Weaver Mgr

5 Brooks Robinson 3B

8 Cal Ripken SS-3B

20 Frank Robinson OF

22 Jim Palmer P

33 Eddie Murray 1B

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