O's fall to .500 with thud, 7-2

Homers launch White Sox as O's drop 11th in past 13

July 30, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Orioles' once-promising season is beginning to dissolve in a raft of defeats.

The Chicago White Sox, the team with the best record in baseball, dealt the skidding Orioles another blow last night before a Camden Yards sellout of 45,267. They rode key home runs by Paul Konerko and Carl Everett to a 7-2 victory that was essentially decided after Konerko's three-run blast in the third inning off a laboring Erik Bedard.

It was the 23rd home run for Konerko, who is batting .386 during his past 16 games.

The loss dropped the Orioles to .500 (51-51) for the first time since April 10 and kept them in fourth place in the American League East behind the Toronto Blue Jays, who also lost yesterday. They fell to a season-worst six games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (8-3) was the beneficiary of the White Sox's offensive support after pitching six solid innings without a walk to improve his lifetime record against the Orioles to 8-2, including four wins in a row. He is 5-1 on the road this year.

Three Chicago relievers threw blanks the last three innings, assuring the Orioles' 11th defeat in their past 13 games.

Everett, the Chicago designated hitter, connected for a two-run shot, his 15th, off reliever Todd Williams in the seventh to provide a working cushion for the White Sox (66-35), who arrived here having lost six of their previous 10 games, including two straight to lowly Kansas City.

They increased their major league-leading road record to 33-16.

"We needed this one," said Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. "We played real poorly in Kansas City and I think to come out with the first win here, it sets the table for a good series."

Guillen praised Hernandez. "I think he likes the big games, especially against the good lineups. He made some big pitches to Sammy [Sosa] and big pitches to Javy [Lopez]. He knows how to pitch."

Bedard (5-3) never settled into a comfortable groove and went to 0-2 in three starts since leaving the disabled list July 18. He walked four batters in the first two innings and was constantly trying to pitch to hitters on 3-2 counts. By the end of a marathon third inning in which the White Sox collected five hits, Bedard had thrown a whopping 94 pitches.

"I got to see the game from in here [the clubhouse]," said Oriole manager Lee Mazzilli, who was ejected in the first inning. "One pitch in that one inning [the second] should have been strike three. He ends up throwing an extra 18 pitches. That's a lot and it kind of changed things around a little bit. I think he just got gassed."

The final Chicago run came in the eighth against Steve Kline while Cliff Politte, Damaso Marte and Luis Vizcaino followed Hernandez and kept the Orioles in check.

Hernandez allowed a run in the first by hitting Melvin Mora with a pitch and issuing consecutive singles to Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro.

In the third, he escaped a jam by striking out Sammy Sosa - who had hit a monstrous foul ball to left near the third deck several pitches earlier. He then allowed consecutive fifth-inning doubles to Mora and Tejada, who produced his fourth four-hit game of the season.

Mazzilli was ejected for the second time this season by third base umpire Mike DiMuro only two batters into the game. The manager protested a safe call on Scott Podsednik's major league-leading 52nd steal and engaged in a lengthy argument before retiring with bench coach Sam Perlozzo taking over direction of the team.

Replays showed a very close play that could have been called either way.

The Orioles are now 1-4 on the current homestand, 4-11 since the All-Star break and 9-23 since June 21.

They have a new member coming in after the trade of Larry Bigbie for fellow outfielder Eric Byrnes of Colorado. Whether that spurs the Orioles to end the slide remains to be seen. It's starting to get serious.

Orioles today

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site, time: Camden Yards, 1:20 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: White Sox's Jose Contreras (6-6, 4.36) vs. Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 4.67)

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