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Numbers Stack Up Against Orioles

Team Loses 10th of Last 13 Games As Offense Is Quiet Against Dodgers : Dodgers 5, Orioles 1

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004; Page D07

LOS ANGELES, June 15 -- The last time a Baltimore Orioles pitcher stood on the mound at Dodger Stadium, a 20-year-old Jim Palmer was wrapping up a complete-game shutout to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series.

No less an authority than Palmer himself has compared current Orioles pitcher-of-the-moment Daniel Cabrera, who took the mound for the team Tuesday night, to the young right-hander who outdueled Sandy Koufax that day 38 years ago.

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The Orioles fell to the Dodgers, 5-1, Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Notebook: Rodrigo Lopez is going back to his relief role as the Orioles hope to stabilize their bullpen.
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But as he sauntered off the mound Tuesday night, at the end of a five-run beating that sent the Orioles to a 5-1 loss in front of 29,711, Cabrera looked less like a young Palmer than just another young, baffled member of the Orioles' 2004 rotation.

And so the Orioles fell to their 10th loss in 13 games, and 16th in their past 23, as an offense that has gone suddenly limp was shut down by Jose Lima, the Dodgers' veteran right-hander, and four relievers.

When the Orioles put together the first semblance of a rally in the ninth, Dodgers Manager Jim Tracy nipped it by bringing in uber-closer Eric Gagne, who entered to a video montage built on the phrase "Game Over," then slammed the door on the Orioles for his major-league-record 77th consecutive save.

At the tender age of 23, Cabrera is already becoming painfully familiar with the feeling of major league heartbreak.

"These are tight games. These are games you have to learn to pitch in the big leagues," pitching coach Mark Wiley said of Cabrera. " . . . He's competing as good as anyone we've got. He's really come a long way."

Five days after losing a game in which he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, Cabrera took a shutout into the sixth against the National League West-leading Dodgers, only to yield five runs over the next two innings and lose again. The big blow was Juan Encarnacion's three-run homer with one out in the sixth.

An Orioles offense that was leading the league in hitting as recently as a week ago has mustered only 14 runs (including two shutouts) in the past six games. Cabrera (3-3) has been hit hardest by the offensive shutdown, as the Orioles have scored only three runs in his past three starts -- a pair of losses and a no-decision.

"It's not [the way] our offense really is," said Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli. "We're in a lull right now, for whatever reason. It's not just one guy."

Lima (5-2) needed only 68 pitches to navigate seven easy innings against the Orioles' impatient batters. In all, the Orioles managed to hit only six balls out of the infield against Lima -- including a homer by Miguel Tejada with one out in the seventh that averted another shutout.

For all its success, interleague play contains several unavoidably ugly elements, and one of them is the sight of American League pitchers at the plate.

As Cabrera batted against Lima in the third, his teammates came to the top step of the dugout to see the spectacle, and to needle him. Cabrera, wearing a sheepish grin, struck out with a flailing hack that time at-bat, then struck out looking -- actually, feigning a bunt -- in the sixth.

In the sixth, Milton Bradley and Shawn Green led off with singles, and after Paul LoDuca bunted them over, Cabrera got Adrian Beltre to tap a one-hopper back to the mound. However, Cabrera failed to get a glove on the ball, which bounced off his chest and away for an RBI single.

After the game, the team sent right-hander Rick Bauer to Class AAA Ottawa to make room for lefty Matt Riley, who will start Wednesday night.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company