Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Earl Weaver ws too exasperated, too depressed, too thoroughly disgusted even to cuss.

"Does that take the cake or what?" the frazzled Baltimore Oriole manager asked Bird General Manager Hank Peters minutes after the O's fifth straight loss.

A defeat can be no more galling than last night's 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals was to the Birds.

The Oriole starter, Scott McGregor, pitched what he called "easily the best game of my career . . . I felt like doggone Nolan Ryan, just curling up and throwing it past people."

The 24-year-old lefty retired the Royals' first 20 batters, getting within seven outs of the 10th perfect game in history.

"He had a hell of a chance at a perfect game, maybe the best I've ever seen," said Weaver, knowing McGregor had needed just 66 pitches to get those 20 men, none of whom even threatened to get a hit.

"My heart was racing, my adrenaline pumping," said McGregor. "I had the best stuff, the best fast ball and the best control of my whole life, I think. I was conceding them nothing."

Then, on one tantalizing sliced liner by Hal McRae that dozens of swift right fielders could have run down - but no Ken Singleton - the perfect game fizzled. The Royals immediately put together four straight hits - only one of them smashed - and McGregor had gone from perfection to defeat.

"When I saw McRae's ball leave the bat, I thought, "Oh God, I hope he catches it,'" said McGregor, now 11-10 with several tough-luck, non-support losses.

Singleton, who said "It was just a double, I had no chance for it," seemed to get a poor jump, compounded by a native lack of speed and a disinterest in attempting any diving catches on the warning track.

The semiliner struck the base of the right field wall, 40 feet fair, as the crowd of 12,859 gave the All-Star Singleton a mild boo for his uninspired play.

McGregor, head bowed, ran almost into the Birds' dugout of to back up third, then kicked at the dirt.

"I felt like staying in the dugout," he tried to joke, "but I had to turn around and go back out there."

The next batter, Al Cowens, dribbled a check-swing grounder into right field to score McRae with the winning run. Replays showed that the excruciating crawler bounced 11 times on its pathetic trip between Rich Dauer and Eddie Murray. "By the time I got to it," said Singleton "the darn thing wasn't even moving."

Neither were the Orioles. After Amos Otis and John Wathan followed with clean line singles to center and left, scoring Cowens, the Royals 2-0 lead seemed huge against nibbling curveballer Larry Gura.

"We haven't stung the ball in 12 games," growled Weaver. 'I have no idea if Gura pitched well." We get four hits a game off everybody."

In their last six games, the O's have eight runs on a meager 35 hits - scant production for a club that (almost amazingly) stands third in the majors in home runs with 106.