- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2001

WHITE SOX 4, ORIOLES 1

CHICAGO Getting men on base was no problem for the Baltimore Orioles last night. Getting them in proved to be nearly impossible.

Despite outhitting the Chicago White Sox, the Orioles stranded 10 runners and couldn't overcome another shaky start by Willis Roberts in a 4-1 loss before 33,439 at Comiskey Park.

Baltimore's first loss in four games also saw the Orioles give up a run for the first time in 25 1/2 innings, dating back to the third inning of Wednesday's game in Toronto.

For most of last night's game, they were on their way to starting another scoreless innings streak this time the wrong kind.

Against White Sox pitchers James Baldwin, Alan Embree, Bob Howry and Keith Foulke, the Orioles outhit Chicago 10-8. They accounted for at least one hit in each of the first six innings but stranded nine. Brook Fordyce's home run in the eighth accounted for Baltimore's only run.

Baldwin (5-4) was all over the place in his five innings, needing a whopping 110 pitches simply to qualify for the victory. The veteran right-hander allowed eight hits and a walk but pitched his way out of any jam that came his way.

"He gave us chances to beat him," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We just didn't get it done. It's particularly frustrating when you do swing the bat well and don't put runs on the scoreboard."

The Orioles had runners on first and second with one out in the second before Baldwin got Larry Bigbie and Jerry Hairston to fly out to left. Three innings later, Baltimore loaded the bases with one out, but third baseman Tony Batista who committed his first two errors since being signed Monday popped up and Melvin Mora lined to right field.

Embree pitched a scoreless sixth, Howry gave up only Fordyce's home run in his two innings and Foulke retired the side in the ninth to record his 17th save.

"We had a lot of men on base," Orioles shortstop Brian Roberts said. "We definitely had opportunities, especially early in the game."

The game served as yet another bizarre outing for Willis Roberts, whose season has spiraled steadily downward since his strong April showing.

Roberts (6-7) hadn't been a victim of the long ball all that much this season, surrendering just five homers in his first 19 appearances (13 starts). That tied him with Josh Towers for fewest homers given up by a member of the rotation.

But the White Sox weren't paying attention to those numbers last night, blasting two homers in the first four innings off the rookie right-hander. Herbert Perry connected for a two-run shot into the Baltimore bullpen in right field in the second inning, and Paul Konerko led off the fourth with a 428-foot drive to dead center field, his 16th homer of the season.

"He threw fastballs over the heart of the plate, and these guys hit it long and hard," Fordyce said. "I think when he gets that under control, he's going to be a good starter."

Roberts really came unglued after the second home run. He walked Jose Canseco, who then stole second base for his 199th career steal. After striking out Perry looking, Roberts gave up a run-scoring single to Sandy Alomar and plunked No. 9 hitter Royce Clayton.

That was all Hargrove needed to see. For the third time in his last six starts, Roberts was pulled in the fourth inning.

"I didn't have my power and I lost my concentration a little bit," Roberts said. "Today was a bad day. I don't think that tomorrow will be. I'll work on it for next time."

Ever since his breakthrough April, Roberts has fallen on hard times. There have been a handful of impressive starts sprinkled throughout like Monday's seven-inning, two-run performance in Toronto, but the bad starts have far outweighed the good.

In nine April appearances (three starts), the 25-year-old Dominican was 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA. Since then, he is 2-7 with a 7.10 ERA.

"He's a young guy with a lack of experience, and we're seeing that," Hargrove said. "He's learning to compete at the major league level. For the most part, he's been able to compete, and compete well."

Calvin Maduro, B.J. Ryan and Chad Paronto kept the Orioles in the game with a combined 4 1/2 scoreless innings of relief.

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