Orioles go quietly in 7-0 loss to Royals

Held to five hits, O's fail to get runner to 2nd base

K.C. ends 8-game skid

July 10, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Apparently, the Kansas City Royals' strategy last night was to lull the Orioles into a false sense of security.

After five innings, the game was scoreless. But as dejected as the Orioles' hitters were feeling, the Royals were enduring the longest scoreless streak in franchise history.

It covered 32 innings. Kansas City hadn't scored since the Fourth of July.

So when the Royals scored four runs in the sixth inning, you half expected fireworks, and the Orioles continued looking helpless in a 7-0 loss before 43,947 at Camden Yards.

"We didn't swing the bats at all tonight," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "We didn't seem like ourselves out there."

Kansas City, which had been outscored 25-0 in its previous series in Minnesota, broke its eight-game losing streak, and the Orioles extended a dreadful streak of their own.

Not only have they lost three consecutive games to fall back to a season-worst 11 games under .500 at 36-47, but they also haven't scored in 24 innings against the opposing starting pitcher.

And it's not like they just faced Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

The trio that has left the Orioles shooting blanks are Rob Bell and Mark Hendrickson - both of Tampa Bay Devil Rays fame - and last night's winner, Darrell May.

May (6-9) looked much better than the last time the Orioles faced him. On June 28 in Kansas City, they got to the left-hander for six earned runs in six innings in a 10-1 rout.

"I think I had a pretty good read on them," May said. "I was fortunate to get ground balls in key situations."

May didn't allow a runner to reach second base. The Orioles managed just five hits, and their record against left-handed starters fell to 9-18.

"It's not from a lack of effort," said Orioles right fielder Jerry Hairston. "If anything, guys are trying too hard. It's frustrating. It is."

Orioles starter Erik Bedard (3-3) looked terrific for five innings, shutting out the Royals on 76 pitches. But he hurt himself in the sixth the way so may Orioles pitchers have this season - with walks.

The inning started with a walk by Desi Relaford. And with one out, Bedard walked Ruben Mateo. Both of those runners eventually scored.

The Royals hadn't scored a run since Ken Harvey hit a ninth-inning home run on Sunday. Their previous record for consecutive scoreless innings was 30, which they set in May 1981 and matched in September 1985.

As this streak continued, they kept coming up with new and creative ways not to score.

But their fortunes finally changed in the sixth, when Mike Sweeney broke the scoreless tie with a two-run double to left field. After being reminded of how it feels to congratulate each other after a run scores, the Royals kept on going.

"Sooner or later, I knew we were going to score," said Royals manager Tony Pena. "When [Relaford] crossed the plate, I just said it was about time."

With two outs, Angel Berroa dropped a bloop single into left field, and two more runners came around to score. Orioles left fielder Larry Bigbie was playing deep on the play and couldn't make a diving catch.

Early in the game, the streak survived, as the Royals committed a comedy of errors on the bases, and the Orioles thwarted their best attempts to score with some fine defensive plays.

After stranding a runner on second base in each of the first two innings, Kansas City started the third with back-to-back singles. Then Tony Graffanino hit a bouncer toward the hole between shortstop and third.

Miguel Tejada ranged to his right to grab the ball and then made a terrific throw back to second base for the out, with all his momentum carrying him into the outfield.

The Royals still had runners at first and third with one out, but they knew they were still a long way from scoring a run. In Wednesday's 12-0 loss to the Twins, they had runners at the corners with one out three different times and didn't score a run.

This time, Kansas city tried a double steal, but the Orioles snuffed it out. Catcher Javy Lopez fired to second base, and Tejada stepped in front of the base to catch it, throwing home in plenty of time to get John Buck.

"Miggy made some great plays," Bedard said of Tejada. "He pretty much saved my butt."

Sweeney struck out to end the inning, and slammed his helmet into the ground.

Then, to end the fifth inning, Berroa slid past second base on an attempted steal and tried running to third before Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts chased him down for the final out.

Orioles today

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 4:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Royals' Mike Wood (1-1, 4.91) vs. Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (5-3, 3.18)

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