Just when it seemed the Baltimore Orioles were ready to break out of the hitting doldrums, they slipped right back in.
The Orioles were unable to repeat the 14-hit performance and comeback victory of Saturday night and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-0, today before 29,928 at Memorial Stadium.
The Orioles did get nine hits, but in only two innings did they have a runner reach third base. Jim Clancy (2-1) made sure of that, pitching well against Baltimore for the second time this season and getting his first complete game.
The loss dropped the Orioles to 9-9, but they remained three games behind first-place New York, which lost to Cleveland, 9-7.
The Blue Jays, who squandered a 4-0 lead Saturday night, improved to 8-10 and won their second game in this weekend's three-game series.
"Somebody asked me if I thought last night's [11-5] win would carry over to today," said Orioles Manager Earl Weaver. "Well, it all depends what the starting pitcher has when he goes out there.
"They were hitting the ball hard today. We hit the ball hard, but right at 'em."
Orioles starter Ken Dixon (2-1), who had the second-lowest earned run average (0.84) in the American League before today's game, didn't finish the third inning.
He gave up a career-high three home runs -- to George Bell, Rance Mulliniks and Cecil Fielder -- and was replaced by Dennis Martinez with two out in the third and the Blue Jays ahead, 4-0.
"[All the hits] went through for three innings," said Weaver. "The thing is, when you hit it over the fence, there's no one in front of them except the fans."
Two of the homers came in the second inning. Bell hit his fourth of the season over the right field fence with one out, then Jesse Barfield singled and Fielder drilled his to left about 380 feet. It was the first hit for Fielder (.111 average coming into the game) since April 10.
Dixon retired the first two batters in the third, but Mulliniks hit an opposite-field homer that appeared to be helped by the wind.
"With the exception of Fielder, I knew what I was doing," said Dixon. "I'll take credit for that one.
"In my opinion, I threw the ball where I wanted to throw it. Two of the home runs [Mulliniks' and Bell's] were with two strikes. With Mulliniks, I think the guy got a lucky break. It was a 90-mile-an-hour fastball low and away. And Bell's was out of the strike zone."
In contrast to Saturday night, once the Orioles got behind they couldn't rally. They were already down eight runs, as the Blue Jays had their way with Martinez and Brad Havens, when Baltimore's best chances came in the sixth and seventh innings. In each instance, they had two runners on and one out. With men in scoring position today, the Orioles were one for 10.
In the sixth, Cal Ripken sharply lined out to third and Eddie Murray flied to left to end the inning with Juan Bonilla (single) and Jackie Gutierrez (double) on first and third, respectively.
Fred Lynn and Larry Sheets singled in the seventh, but were stranded when Clancy struck out John Stefero and got Gutierrez to ground out.
"That kind of stuff happens," said Orioles outfielder Mike Young. "Of course, you want to come through with men on base."
Said Clancy: "I knew I was going to come in there and throw off-speed pitches. They were waiting for fastballs. I was a little more fine with my pitches."
Weaver continued to shuffle the lineup today, benching Alan Wiggins for the second straight game, putting Gutierrez at second base and resting third baseman Floyd Rayford, who has not hit Clancy well. Bonilla, who had played at second Saturday night, moved to third and was shaky at times.
Martinez relieved Dixon with Willie Upshaw on base with a walk. Upshaw stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Bell.
The Blue Jays scored a run in the fourth inning off Martinez after Jeff Hearron's hard ground ball bounced off Bonilla's chest and into foul territory for a double. Hearron scored on Lloyd Moseby's single.
In the fifth, Bonilla charged a slow roller with runners on first and second, and when pitcher Havens fielded the ball and saw no one was covering third, he threw to first for the out. Hearron followed with a single and both runners scored.
"All three [reserves Gutierrez, Bonilla and catcher Stefero] looked pretty good," said Weaver. "Our 9-9 record isn't because of second base, it's because we haven't been scoring runs."
Clancy's shutout was his first since May 1983. "The more hits they got, the harder I was bearing down," he said. "It's a long time for me but our whole [staff] has pitched well against the Orioles.
"My changeup was working plus my slider and fastball. I was able to hit the corners," Clancy said. "I threw fastballs in the middle innings and came back with the slider in the later innings."
He struck out four, walked one and stranded nine base runners.
Weaver said he isn't rotating players to look for the right combination.
"What I try to do is send a ball club out there that will win a ball game," he said.