White Sox wax O's, 9-4

R. Lopez can't make it out of second inning as team drops 5th straight

August 01, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Orioles keep sinking in the American League East.

Still unable to find a solution for their deepening slump, the one-time surprise leader of the division lost for the 13th time in the past 15 games last night before 31,982 at Camden Yards and a national television audience.

The rampaging Chicago White Sox, the team with the best record in baseball, mastered them again, packing eight runs into their first two innings and cruising to a 9-4 victory behind right-hander Freddy Garcia.

Chicago (68-35) widened its AL Central lead to a season-best 14 1/2 games with its eighth win in its past 10 road games and third straight over the Orioles, who have lost five straight and are 1-6 on a dreary homestand with only today's series finale remaining.

"When things are bad, they're never as bad as they look," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "This, too, shall pass. It's tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your guys are scratching all the way up to try to see it."

Garcia (11-4) lasted seven innings and was touched for only three earned runs while pitching beyond the sixth for the 21st time in 22 starts. He is 9-1 on the road this season and 16-2 over his past 20 starts.

The Orioles dropped two games below .500 (51-53) for the first time in 2005, eight games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox and two behind the third-place Toronto Blue Jays.

Garcia began to weaken in the middle innings as the Orioles vainly tried to overcome their huge deficit.

In the sixth, an opposite-field double by Miguel Tejada and a looping single by Sammy Sosa cut the margin to 9-2 before Garcia go out of the inning.

An inning later, Brian Roberts led off with a homer off the right-field foul pole, his 16th of the season, and newcomer Eric Byrnes followed with his first homer as an Oriole, with the ball barely clearing the left-field fence.

The rally continued when, one out later, Tejada doubled off the scoreboard and Rafael Palmeiro walked before Sosa, who was booed by part of the crowd, struck out for the third time and Javy Lopez grounded into a fielder's choice.

Mazzilli said Rodrigo Lopez was "well aware" that the Orioles needed a quality start from him after 25 pitchers were used in the team's preceding five games. In the previous three games, the bullpen had accounted for 18 innings. But it was wishful thinking that it would happen.

Lopez (9-6) faced 15 batters and retired just four, departing with his team trailing 8-1 after he threw 68 pitches.

"He was really trying to go the distance right away," said Mazzilli. "He was well aware of what his surroundings were [the necessity for a quality start]. It seems like every pitch he wanted to make sure he'd get through the inning. Rather than staying within yourself, you try to do too much.

"It's human nature to try to put everything on your shoulders."

For the third time in four days, an Orioles starter couldn't relieve the relievers, the previous two leaving because of hand injuries, and in the other game, Erik Bedard needed 116 pitches in five innings.

The White Sox have scored first in 64 of their 103 starts and have outscored their opposition, 87-45, in the first.

But if not for Timo Perez - who made two of the three outs in the Chicago first while replacing slumping Scott Podsednik - Lopez might not have endured one inning. The White Sox sent 10 men to the plate in their first at-bat, scored five times and left two on base.

Lopez walked two batters and nicked Aaron Rowand with a pitch during the spree, which included a two-run single by Jermaine Dye, a two-run double by Joe Crede and a run-scoring single by Juan Uribe.

A Crede throwing error enabled the Orioles to get one back in the bottom half. Garcia could have escaped unscathed, but Crede heaved the ball wildly to first base in an attempt to retire Tejada, allowing Brynes, who had doubled and gained third on a fly ball, to race home.

But Chicago wasted no time in heaping some more misery upon Lopez, who had been unbeaten in his previous four starts with a 2.96 ERA.

In the second, Tadahito Iguchi walked, stole second and scored one out later on Paul Konerko's double down the third-base line. Rowand followed with a hit to center to plate Konerko and when David Newhan (subbing for injured Luis Matos in center) threw home, Rowand took second. From there, he came home on Dye's single and third RBI.

That was all for Lopez. Todd Williams replaced him and ended the uprising by retiring the next two hitters.

Garcia settled in after the White Sox error, permitting only a chopper for a single by Tejada through the fourth.

The next inning, Jay Gibbons and Roberts singled, but Byrnes forced Roberts. Melvin Mora flied out to end the threat.

Williams was charged with a run that increased the White Sox lead to 9-1 although he was out of the game when Bruce Chen issued a sacrifice fly to Perez. The run was set up by a walk to Chris Widger and Uribe's single.

Chen, who originally was scheduled to start today, was making a relief appearance for the second consecutive game. Pronounced fit after getting hit in the hand by a line drive in the second inning Saturday, Daniel Cabrera will pitch today.

After the game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was steaming because Iguchi was hit by a Williams pitch in the third and was forced to leave with a contusion on his hip.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he hit him on purpose," said Guillen in an expletive-laced tirade. "Ain't nobody going to tell me that ball slipped. It was right behind the kid. ... I don't respect that type of game. I hate when things happen like that. It really makes me mad."

Orioles today

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site, time: Camden Yards, 12:35 p.m.

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

Starters: White Sox's Mark Buehrle (11-4, 2.96) vs. Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 4.68)

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