- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2000


NEW YORK During the Baltimore Orioles recent five-game losing streak, most of the club's failures could be traced to poor offense that failed to take advantage of a series of strong pitching performances.

Last night's debacle will fall primarily on the club's pitchers, who gave up runs by the bushel in an 11-3 loss the New York Mets before 34,492 at Shea Stadium.

The loss was the Orioles' sixth in seventh games and dropped them to 1-4 against the National League this year. The Mets improved to 32-26, a mark the Orioles (24-32) would envy but one that still leaves them behind two teams in the NL East.

Orioles starter Scott Erickson and a cadre of relievers were hit hard, giving up runs on towering homers, bases on balls, triples, and bloop base hits. The Orioles allowed 12 hits, walked 6 and hit one batter. Of the 19 baserunners, 16 reached in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

"The guys just didn't get it done tonight," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "It's not enjoyable to watch.

The game went sour in the sixth, when Erickson suddenly lost the ability to get anybody out. Kurt Abott, who entered the game in the top of the inning as part of a double switch, led off with a shot down the right-field line that became a triple after it got caught in the corner.

He scored on a Jason Tyner sacrifice fly, and Derek Bell followed with an infield single and scored on another triple, this one by Edgardo Alfonzo to put the Mets up 4-3.

After a pair of walks, the second by Chuck McElroy, Todd Zeile hit an RBI single and Matt Franco another sacrifice fly to make it 7-3.

The Orioles have now surrendered 20 triples this season after giving up 34 all of last year. By contrast, the lead-footed Orioles have only hit five triples this year.

Relievers Al Reyes, B.J. Ryan and Jose Mercedes ended any chances of a comeback when they combined to give up four more runs in the seventh, continuing a bad season for a bullpen that began the game with a 6.44 ERA.

"They just didn't throw strikes and when they did throw strikes, they were right down the middle of the plate," said Hargrove.

Orioles batters didn't help their cause by stranding 10 runners.

Amazingly, at one point, the Orioles had a lead and had even overcome an early deficit created when Alfonzo and Mike Piazza hit a pair of mammoth solo homers in the first.

Piazza's blast, which went 448 feet, bounced once behind the Orioles' bullpen in left field and landed in the parking lot to put the Mets' up 2-0.

Erickson recovered nicely from those shots and retired 13 of the next 14 until the disastrous sixth.

Cal Ripken's batting average continues to slide, but the future Hall of Famer has found his power stroke. He brought a below-par .243 average into the game but hit his solo homer in the second that got the Orioles on the board and was his team-leading 11th of the season.

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