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  •   Orioles Lose, End April 1-22

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, May 1, 1988; Page D1

    CHICAGO, APRIL 30 -- With the pressure of a 21-game losing streak gone, the Baltimore Orioles said they were anxious to find out what kind of team they really had. The answer appears to be: about the same.

    A night after they scored nine runs and collected 11 hits, their bats went silent again as the Chicago White Sox beat them, 4-1, before 16,078 at Comiskey Park.

    And a night after the longest losing streak in American League history ended, the Orioles picked up another dubious distinction: Their 1-22 April is the worst single month in major league history. That figures to a .043 winning percentage and shatters a record established by the Philadelphia Athletics, who went 2-28 (.067) in July 1916.

    "I hoped we'd come back out and get a winning streak started," Orioles Manager Frank Robinson said. "We still may. This might be the in-between game. But the month of April is behind. It's gone. Goodbye."

    Chicago's Rick Horton and Bobby Thigpen pitched a five-hitter as the Orioles were held to fewer than two runs for the 11th time this young season. Their run scored in the second inning after Tito Landrum tripled, and their other offense was four singles, two of them by rookie third baseman Craig Worthington.

    Their only sustained offense came from shortstop Cal Ripken, who was on base four times with three walks and a single. The hit extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he has reached base 30 times in 46 plate appearances and raised his batting average from .047 to .225.

    As if the lack of punch wasn't enough, defensive mistakes led to two of the four Chicago runs. One scored in the fourth when center fielder Joe Orsulak misplayed a fly ball into a triple and second baseman Pete Stanicek muffed a grounder. Another scored after Greg Walker's fly fell between Stanicek and outfielder Landrum for a double.

    The lack of hitting and the defensive blunders ruined another good performance by left-hander Mark Thurmond (0-5), who allowed three earned runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He hasn't won since Aug. 26, 1986, and after the game, was in no mood to relfect on his bad luck.

    "Hopefully, I'm getting all my bad luck out of the way early," he said, cutting his postgame news conference off before it began.

    Meanwhile, Horton (3-3) was terrific, allowing four hits and leaving when Manager Jim Fregosi turned the game over to Thigpen, who earned his fourth save and is fulfilling his promise of becoming the American League's next star reliever.

    "I threw a lot of pitches that ended up in good spots but not necessarily where I wanted them," Horton said. "I was very fortunate and lucky in a lot of respects."

    The Orioles played without second baseman Bill Ripken and reliever Tom Niedenfuer. Ripken was carried off the field after being hit in the helmet by a John Davis fastball in Friday's game, and Niedenfuer was sent back to Baltimore to have his stiff lower back examined.

    Ripken suffered a mild concussion, and while no long-range problems are expected, he still was woozy tonight and may be sidelined a couple more games "until my head feels like it's not about to explode."

    The Orioles scored first for the fifth straight game, getting their run when Landrum led off the second by rolling a triple to the wall in right center and scoring on Carl Nichols' sacrifice fly.

    Regardless, the lead didn't last long. The White Sox bounced back to score two runs in the last of the second.

    Ivan Calderon led off with his seventh home run of the season, and Walker looped a double between Stanicek, subbing for Bill Ripken, and Landrum in right. Carlton Fisk singled him home, and after Kenny Williams walked, Thurmond retired Dan Pasqua, Fred Manrique and Gary Redus in order.

    "I'm not saying who should have caught that ball," Robinson said, "but someone should have. When a pitcher makes a pitch like that, the ball has to be caught. That ball was up in the air a long time."

    Landrum said he slipped in his first step for the ball "and didn't call it because I didn't want to call Pete off and mess him up. He hit it in exactly the right place."

    The lead should have stayed at 2-1, but didn't because the Orioles defense bungled a couple of chances in the fourth.

    With two out, Williams hit a ball off the center field wall for triple. Only it shouldn't have been.

    Orsulak got back on the ball in time, then leaped high over the wall to make the catch. His leap was a thing of beauty, but the ball hit about two feet below his glove. They still would have been out of the inning if Stanicek had fielded Pasqua's routine grounder. But it bounced off his glove, and Williams came home with a 3-1 lead.

    "It came up a little at the end," Stanicek said. "I got caught in between on the bounces. That's my timing being off a little."

    A triple by Redus fetched the Sox a fourth run in the eighth, and that was more than enough as the Orioles got only two runners as far as second base after the second inning.

    Orioles Notes:

    The Orioles dined on Maryland crabs tonight, a congratulatory gift from Gov. William Donald Schaefer . . . Robinson named Scott McGregor his starting pitcher for Monday's homecoming game against the Texas Rangers, although that doesn't necessarily mean McGregor will start. Rochester's Jay Tibbs is also due to pitch Monday and still could be called up. The Orioles are hesitant about giving McGregor and his 8.83 ERA another starting assignment . . . The Orioles' 9-0 victory Friday was their widest since they beat Seattle, 15-4, last May 19. Their four-run seventh inning was the first time they'd batted around in an inning . . . In the four games before tonight, the Orioles had 25 men reach base via a hit by pitch or walk . . . Bill Ripken has four hits in his last 40 at-bats . . . Kennedy had more RBI Friday (two) than in his previous 19 games.

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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