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  •   Orioles Misplay It Again, 4-3

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, April 15, 1988; Page G1

    The 1988 Streak:
    Game 9
    BALTIMORE, APRIL 14 -- They twice couldn't get down sacrifice bunts, they made three errors, they balked twice and they handed the Kansas City Royals three unearned runs.

    What possibly could be left for the Baltimore Orioles in 1988?

    Tonight they finally weren't blown away by the fourth or fifth inning, but the winless and hapless Orioles nonetheless found a way to lose their ninth straight game, this one, 4-3, before 13,005 at Memorial Stadium.

    The latest loss helped them scratch a bit closer to major league history. Only three teams have ever had worse starts than the Orioles, and no team in 20 years has started this badly. Over the horizon, they now can see the three worst beginnings of all time -- 0-13 by the 1904 Senators and 1920 Tigers and 0-10 by the 1968 White Sox.

    Outfielder Jeff Stone completed a horrible night for himself by misplaying a ninth-inning Frank White fly into the game-winning run. Jim Eisenreich raced home from first on the error, not the only one for Stone, who earlier had been unable to get a sacrifice bunt down, was picked off first and went hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .036.

    Stone's error was the biggest, but not the only one, though the Orioles nearly pulled out a game in spite of themselves.

    "It's a tough one to lose," Manager Frank Robinson said. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy. If we try hard and keep giving 100 percent like we did tonight, we're going to be okay. We made mistakes tonight, but they were mental mistakes."

    They lost despite rallying from a 3-0 deficit with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth. They lost despite Mike Boddicker's superb performance. Boddicker (0-3) became the second Oriole to pitch a complete game this season and this one was a beauty -- nine innings, five hits, one earned run, no walks and 10 strikeouts.

    He overcame a briefcase full of mistakes, including his two costly balks, to give the Orioles their first dramatic game of the year. He retired 18 straight Royals between the third and ninth inning, but when Eisenreich got a two-out single in the ninth, it was the beginning of the end.

    White followed by lifting a fly to shallow left. Stone lost it in the lights for a single, then let it skip past him for the Orioles' third error of the game.

    "It got up in the lights and I couldn't see it," Stone said. "I tried to block it with my body, but I couldn't see it."

    Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen (1-1) went eight innings for the victory, and relievers Bud Black and Gene Garber worked out of ninth-inning trouble.

    Boddicker finished the game, but not before he and the Orioles almost were finished in the third inning. The Royals got a 1-0 lead in the second after Eisenreich (two hits, two RBI) got a one-out single and eventually scored on Boddicker's balk. White followed with a bouncer that third baseman Schu fielded and tossed to second for the force on Eisenreich. His throw was late and the Royals had two men on.

    Then, with Bo Jackson at the plate, Eisenreich stole third. Boddicker got Jackson on an infield pop, but with Jamie Quirk batting, Boddicker was called for his third balk of the season, all of which have brought in runs.

    "It's {the umpires'} game," Boddicker said. "They control it. They call them when they want to. I kept us in the game and did my job, but the balks are getting ridiculous."

    He got Quirk on a grounder to second to end the inning, but Kurt Stillwell led off the third with a single and went to second on Bill Ripken's bobble of a Willie Wilson grounder. Boddicker picked off Stillwell at second, but balked Wilson to second base.

    Kevin Seitzer reached first on Eddie Murray's error. Wilson went to third on the play and scored on George Brett's sacrifice fly to center for a 2-0 lead. Danny Tartabull doubled to right to score Seitzer to make it 3-0.

    Saberhagen was perfect through 13 hitters before Fred Lynn's first home run got the Orioles within 3-1 in the fifth.

    They tied it, 3-3, in the sixth on Bill Ripken's RBI double and Cal Ripken's grounder that rolled between Seitzer's legs at third. There could've been more but Stone couldn't sacrifice Schu to second, then was picked off first.

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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