- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Unfortunately, Mike Mussina couldn't recapture the magic.

The Baltimore Orioles ace, who threw a complete game, one-hit shutout his last time out, never was in control yesterday as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays earned a 7-4 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

Mussina allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings, and enabled the Devil Rays to win the rubber game of the three-game set in front of 18,664. The right-handed Mussina simply could not hit his spots as he did in his masterful performance last Tuesday against Minnesota.

"He wasn't locating his pitches," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, whose club lost its second straight. "He had trouble getting his breaking pitches over consistently."

Greg Vaughn and Jose Guillen each had two-run homers as Tampa Bay (47-62) pulled away with a four-run third inning. Vaughn's rocket came after Mussina walked leadoff man Gerald Williams. The light-hitting Guillen, who had not homered since June 25, went deep after a walk to Fred McGriff.

"Sometimes those kind of games [like a one-hitter] take more out of you than games when you have decent stuff or you're battling a long time," said Mussina, whose record fell to 7-11 "That's how it has always been in the past. If I have an exceptional game, the next game is usually a struggle."

Baltimore (48-61) has the second worst record in the American League and is 1-2 on this 10-game road trip. The Orioles are only one game ahead of last-place Tampa Bay in the AL East.

Mussina came into the game with the fourth-lowest ERA in the American League (3.65), but saw it rise to 3.88 after yesterday's showing.

Despite a mediocre outing, Ryan Rupe (4-4) picked up the win, allowing four earned runs over five innings. Roberto Hernandez earned his 21st save with a perfect ninth.

But the game was won in the third as Mussina got burned by Vaughn and Guillen. Vaughn's shot his 20th of the season landed deep into the seats in left. Guillen's homer just cleared the wall in the left-field corner.

"The second was definitely a mistake," said Mussina, who failed to pitch seven innings for only the sixth time in 24 starts. "It was a hanging curveball. The first was in the middle of the plate. It kind of backed up on me a little bit instead of cutting away."

Several Orioles did have breakout games. Melvin Mora and Chris Richard had their first AL home runs. Shortstop Mora, acquired from the New York Mets in the Mike Bordick trade, gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead in the first when he homered to left on an 0-2 pitch. First baseman Richard, who came from St. Louis for Mike Timlin, had a two-run shot to right in the fourth. The opposite-field homer was one of three hits for the rookie. He finished with three RBI.

Jeff Conine ended an 0-for-11 stretch, which included an 0-for-7 performance in Friday night's 15-inning win. The utility player had two hits, including a triple, scored two runs, threw out a runner at the plate and made a diving catch in right field.

The Devil Rays widened their lead to 7-4 in the seventh as they ended Mussina's outing. Miguel Cairo (three hits) had an RBI double, and scored on a sacrifice fly by McGriff after Mussina's exit.

The Orioles ace felt it was a bad omen when he struck out Williams to start the game.

"Last game, the guy hit a missile at me, I barely got my glove on it and knocked it down," Mussina said. "I gave up one-hit the whole rest of the game. [Yesterday], I strike the first guy out and [second-batter Cairo] put a ground ball down the line. I hung a couple pitches and they got on them."

Notes Baltimore's Brady Anderson left the game in the eighth inning after complaining of a sore foot that may have been caused by the artificial surface… . Brook Fordyce had the day off yesterday after he caught 25 innings in just more than a 24-hour period. Fordyce worked all 15 innings Friday night, followed by Saturday afternoon's 10-inning affair. "I figure 25 innings in two days is enough for anybody," Hargrove said. Greg Myers started in his place … Ryan Kohlmeier will get a shot at being Baltimore's closer. The rookie reliever, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester on July 28, pitched two scoreless innings, the 10th and 11th in Friday's game. "He's moving himself into more important and special situations," said Hargrove, who would have used the 23-year-old right hander if there had been a save opportunity on Saturday.

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