The Baltimore Orioles lost their ninth straight game tonight when the Chicago White Sox scored twice in the ninth inning to break a tie and secure a 4-2 victory.
The defeat tied the Orioles' worst losing streak since Earl Weaver became manager in 1968 and when it was over, Weaver was livid. With his team in the cellar of the American League East at 2-10, he glowered at his dressing room and said, "I'd like to be able to win just one game, 2-0. I'd like to score just one more run than they do. Now how do you do that? I don't know."
The Orioles lost despite a strong pitching effort from Jim Palmer, who went 8 2/3 innings and took his first loss of the season.
Baltimore rallied for a run to tie the game in the eighth on Eddie Murray's second RBI single, but the White Sox, who started the season with eight straight wins, came back with a pair of down-the-line extra-base hits to win it.
Palmer gave up a single to Harold Baines to lead off the ninth. Baines was sacrificed to second and scored when Jim Morrison tripled into the left-field corner. It was his third hit.
Morrison was out on Bill Almon's squeeze attempt. Almon took first on the play and raced home when Ron LeFlore sent a bloop down the right field line that landed just inside the line for a double. Weaver raced out to argue that Almon was out at the plate, but it was in vain.
The win is Chicago's ninth against only two losses, and the luck that accompanies such streaks (and the bad luck that accompanies slumps) was not discounted by Morrison.
"There's no justice," said the White Sox third baseman. "(Ken) Singleton hits one over the wall (in the seventh, with a man on base) and LeFlore grabs it. Then LeFlore and I hit 'em down the line and we win the ball game."
Morrison was optimistic about the Orioles. "Those guys have all the potential in the world," he said. "You know they're going to come out of it."
But the silent gloom in the Oriole locker room indicated no one there was quite so sure.
A bright spot for the Orioles was Murray's hitting. In going two for four with two RBI his batting average now stands at .510.
But the Chicago starter, left-hander Britt Burns, who had allowed no runs in 13 innings in his previous two starts, proved a match for the other Orioles. He gave up six hits before giving way to winner Lamarr Hoyt, who earned his third victory, all against the hapless Baltimoreans.
Chicago scored first after a rising fast ball thrown by Palmer clipped Steve Kemp on the right arm in the fourth inning. Kemp hit the ground writhing in pain and his mates helped him off the field. X-rays showed no break, only a severe bruise.
Speedster Rudy Law replaced Kemp at first base. He was off and running when Tom Paciorek lined a single into left-center. Law got the go-ahead to try to score but stumbled rounding third. A good throw might have had him, but center fielder Al Bumbry overthrew the cutoff man and Law scored easily.
The Orioles tied it in their half on Rich Dauer's double and Murray's first single, only to see the White Sox take the lead back in the fifth on a double by Morrison and a single by LeFlore.
A crowd of 11,885 watched the proceedings on a brisk, clear night.