Apparently, the cure-all for pitchers who can't beat anybody else is to wait for the Baltimore Orioles.
Bruce Hurst of the Boston Red Sox came into tonight's game with a 2-7 record and an ERA of 6.66, but looked like Dwight Gooden against the Orioles. He allowed six hits and struck out seven in seven innings in a 6-1 victory before 31,829 in Fenway Park.
It was the fourth straight loss for Baltimore, which dropped to 8 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East Division for the first time this season.
Gary Roenicke's seventh-inning homer was Baltimore's offense. By then, though, the Red Sox had scored at least one run in each of the first five innings. They drove five balls off the left field wall and got 14 hits, including six off Storm Davis (4-4).
Anyone who doesn't think the Orioles are in trouble should consider that they have lost 12 games this month against teams in the AL East. What seemed to bother Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver most is that the team doesn't look bad, but it can't win a game.
"I'm tired of saying it, so I know you're tired of hearing it," he said, "but everybody looked fairly decent. But we're not getting the results. Anybody can look in the paper and see we're not getting the results. But the pitching looks good to me. Storm looked to me like he had good stuff. Nobody looks bad to the point where you say, 'This guy ain't ever gonna win a game.'
"I've watched them all look good and watched them all feel they should be getting more outs. I'm not an alibi person. I'm just trying to intelligently answer the questions."
The continuance of little problems seems to hurt the Orioles more than vague things such as lack of hitting.
Catcher Rick Dempsey's poor throw to second base on Jim Rice's first attempted steal of the season allowed Wade Boggs to score from third with Boston's first run. That's one little thing Weaver mentioned.
Actually, there were two "little things" on that play. Dempsey never tagged Boggs, who even missed the plate and had to crawl back and touch it with his hand.
Boston led, 3-0, in the third when another "little thing" hurt the Orioles. Davis' balk moved Rice to second, from where he scored when Mike Easler -- who had his first four-hit game of the season -- singled to left to make it 4-0.
In the ninth, reliever Don Aase forgot to cover first base on a grounder to first. "Now that didn't cost us tonight," Weaver said. "And I'm sure Aase covers the damn bag 99 times out of 100. But that's one of the little things.
"If there's one big thing that hasn't been up to snuff, it's been our defense. There have been a few ground balls going through. (But) balks, not covering the bag; things like that that have been happening, we've gotta stop 'em."
If Hurst had given up his usual six or seven runs tonight, the Orioles might not have been so glum. The only thing that kept him from going the distance in all probability was a pulled groin muscle he suffered in the seventh while fielding Lenn Sakata's 10-foot grounder.
The middle of the Baltimore lineup -- Cal Ripken, Murray and Fred Lynn -- totaled one hit in 10 at bats with six strikeouts. Lynn struck out three times, Murray twice and Ripken once. Ripken also grounded into a double play in the eighth after the first two batters had reached base.
All this, of course, led observers to believe that Hurst (3-7) surely did something different tonight than in his last four starts, all losses.
"I have my ups and downs," he said. "Tonight's just one game. You can't start writing in Cy Young awards. Let's be realistic. But I am really happy."
Roenicke's homer cleared the wall, but no other Oriole reached it. "When you're not hitting that wall, you're not gonna win many games here," Weaver said.
Now, the Orioles seem close to hitting the wall themselves. They will face Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd, who has one of the lowest ERAs in the league (2.70) on Saturday.