- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2000

BALTIMORE The Baltimore Orioles finally scored some runs for Mike Mussina Thursday, but the outburst wasn't enough to counter another poor start by the club's ace.

After getting paltry run support in his previous six starts, Mussina was the beneficiary of five early runs but gave them all back during his shortest outing of the season in an 8-5 loss to the Anaheim Angels before 43,892 at Camden Yards.

It was Baltimore's second consecutive loss to the Angels and marked the first time it has dropped a series at home. Worse, after a promising 11-5 start, the Orioles (15-12) have lost seven of the past 11 heading into a six-game road swing against the World Series champion New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays that begins Friday night in the Bronx.

In Mussina's previous six starts, the Orioles had scored only a total of 15 runs, a major reason why last year's American League Cy Young Award runner-up didn't get his first win until Saturday.

"I'm disappointed," Mussina said. "I got five runs in the first half of the game, and I wasn't able to do anything with them and make them hold up."

The Orioles feared Mussina might feel the fatigue of throwing 138 pitches in his first complete game of the season last weekend and considered giving him an extra day's rest. But doing so would have meant starting Jose Mercedes, who was demoted to the bullpen after getting shelled in his last start, and the Orioles opted to go with their ace even if he was tired.

Mussina gave up eight hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings but refused to blame a tired arm.

"It didn't seem to be a factor," he said. "I just didn't pitch well."

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove agreed but admitted he wasn't surprised.

"He didn't seem tired," Hargrove said. "His velocity was fine he was throwing the ball 90-92 [miles per hour]. He just lost his location and they teed off… . After 138 pitches [Saturday], it didn't surprise me."

Mussina didn't look tired early, giving up just one run over the first three innings. But Mo Vaughn began the fourth with a home run and, after one out, the Angels got five straight hits three singles and two doubles to score three more runs for a 5-3 lead.

"You get those kinds of innings once in awhile where you give it all you've got but nothing seems to work," Mussina said.

Mussina, now 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA, was replaced by Calvin Maduro after he allowed another run and then walked Salmon. in the fifth.

For a while it appeared the Orioles would score enough to counter Mussina's struggles. They took a 3-1 lead in the third inning on as B.J. Surhoff, Albert Belle and Harold Baines collected RBI to put the Orioles up 3-1. After the Angels took their 5-3 lead, Brady Anderson tied the game in the fifth with a two-run homer off starter Ken Hill.

The Orioles chased Hill after five innings, but relievers Eric Weaver and Shigetoshi Hasegawa limited Baltimore to just one hit over the final four innings.

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