It was like a cruel segment in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
Everything Dennis Martinez threw went flying back past his head twice as fast.
His first nine pitches tonight resulted in five runs, and he lasted only four outs. The Baltimore Orioles spent the rest of the night trying to catch up, but couldn't and lost, 8-6, to the Minnesota Twins.
The game before 36,775 here in the Metrodome spoiled the night for the Orioles' Cal Ripken Jr., who played in his 464th consecutive game, breaking Brooks Robinson's team record.
Martinez (2-2) pitched to 14 Twins and 10 reached base. The first six reached base on 11 pitches, four of them on extra-base hits.
The Minnesota pitching was far from flawless. But starter Ken Schrom (2-2) allowed five hits in seven innings -- two of them successive homers by Wayne Gross and Ripken -- to break Baltimore's four-game winning streak.
The Orioles, having spotted Minnesota a 5-0 lead, pulled within 5-4 on back-to-back homers in the third. Gross hit his with two on and Ripken's was with the bases empty.
Baltimore scored single runs in the sixth, on Fred Lynn's single, and in the eighth on Ripken's RBI. But Ron Davis pitched 1 1/3 innings for the save.
It was odd that Martinez should have such a horrendous outing -- after two straight victories -- because he felt so good warming up.
"Everytime I feel so good, so strong, I try to blow everybody out and just throw without thinking," he said. "I had such a good fast ball in the bullpen. Even my change up and slider were hard, but they were up. And no matter how hard you throw, they're going to hit if the pitches are up. I had no location on my pitches.
"It was just one of those nights. I'll work it out tomorrow and adjust, because, if I keep doing what I did tonight, I won't be here long. I'll come back."
Kirby Puckett, Minnesota's dazzling center fielder, had two more hits, giving him six in the first two games of this series.
"Martinez is telling the truth," Puckett said. "He had some good, hard stuff. But it was just probably one of those nights where, no matter what he did, nothing would help."
Puckett started the game by chopping a single off the artificial turf. He scored on a double by Mickey Hatcher, who scored on a first-pitch double by Kent Hrbek. Hrbek, who had three hits tonight, scored on a first-pitch double by Tom Brunansky, who then scored on a second-pitch home run by Mike Stenhouse. Five runs, nobody out.
Schrom said he could identify with Martinez. "Sometimes you feel awesome in the bullpen then can't get anybody out," he said. "I think it has to do with a lack of concentration and not spotting the ball. It's definitely happened to me."
The Orioles' manager, Joe Altobelli, said of Martinez, who was replacing Storm Davis in the starting rotation: "He'll get the ball again. I don't want him to dwell on what happened tonight. He made some decent pitches and they were still hitting them."
Altobelli seemed a bit more disturbed by Minnesota's three-run fifth off reliever Nate Snell, which increased Minnesota's lead to 8-5 and gave momentum back to the Twins.
Baltimore's big inning might have been the eighth, when Ripken led off with a double off the right field wall that didn't miss by much being his second home run of the game.
He scored on Fred Lynn's ground out, but the Orioles couldn't get anybody else on base in the inning. Ripken has hit in seven consecutive games and 12 of 13.
"Every year we have to fill out a ballot for the toughest hitter in the American League and I think it's Ripken," Schrom said. "You can never tell what (kind of pitch) he's looking for."
Many of the Orioles -- including Gross, whose homer came off a slow curve, appeared to be looking for breaking pitches. The Orioles know they are at a disadvantage on this artificial surface and play more for the big inning than usual.
"Normally, they're a really good fast ball hitting team," Schrom said. "But they know our pitching coach, Johnny Podres, teaches us a lot of off-speed stuff, and they seem to be looking for it."
The Orioles had another chance in the eighth, when Brunansky lost Jim Dwyer's leadoff fly to right field for a three-base error. Gross hit a check-swing single up the middle. But second baseman Tim Teufel stopped the ball in the outfield, holding Dwyer at third.
He did score on Ripken's fielder's choice grounder, but the Orioles had no more magic tonight.