BALTIMORE, JUNE 12 -- The bad news hit the Baltimore Orioles in three rolling waves today.
It began early with word that free-agent left-hander Bob Shirley wasn't interested in pitching for them. About an hour after that, first baseman Eddie Murray limped into the clubhouse unable to play because of a lower back strain suffered Thursday night. Then almost routinely, there was another loss, an 8-5 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays before 27,521 at Memorial Stadium.
For the second straight night, the Orioles made it interesting, rallying from a 5-0 deficit to a 5-5 tie in the seventh. But the tie lasted about only 10 minutes, until Tony Fernandez's pop fly fell into left field for a run-scoring double in the top of the eighth inning.
That's nine losses in a row for the Orioles. The losing streak is the fourth-worst in club history, and in shooting distance of the worst ever, which was 14 in 1954.
At 27-33, they've won only one of their last 14 games and fallen 12 games out of first place. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (38-20) won a club record 10th straight with homers from Willie Upshaw and Lloyd Moseby and two scoreless inning from rookie reliever Jeff Musselman.
They beat the Orioles' best pitcher, totaling six runs and 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings off Mike Boddicker (5-3). While he wasn't sharp, he was certainly courageous, and for a while it appeared he might be rewarded for it after the Orioles sent 10 men to the plate and scored five times in the seventh.
But Toronto won it with a two-out rally in the eighth. Garth Iorg singled to center, and on the next pitch, Boddicker got Fernandez to pop a ball into shallow left field.
Three Orioles converged -- left fielder Alan Wiggins, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and third baseman Ray Knight -- but none of them gloved what was a catchable ball. It was hit high enough that Iorg, running on the play, was able to score from first base.
The Blue Jays scored two more in the ninth against Tom Niedenfuer.
They got 13 hits in all, with Ernie Whitt contributing three.
Mark Eichhorn (8-2) pitched one-third of an inning in relief of Jim Clancy for the victory; he has more wins than any other major league reliever.
Upshaw's seventh homer gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead in the fourth. They made it 4-0 in the fifth as Kelly Gruber and Iorg singled, and Moseby hit a hanging curveball over the center field wall, his ninth homer.
It went to 5-0 in the sixth. Rick Leach got a leadoff double and scored on Fernandez's double.
Clancy again was excellent. He entered with a string of scoreless innings at Memorial Stadium that began Aug. 4, 1984, and he extended it to 27 innings by keeping the Orioles scoreless until the seventh.
He threw double-play balls to end the second and fifth. But in the seventh, the Orioles came alive.
Ripken Jr. and Larry Sheets led off with singles, and both scored on Fred Lynn's double to left-center. Toronto Manager Jimy Williams brought in left-hander Gary Lavelle, who got Knight on a groundout before allowing Terry Kennedy's 10th homer.
The homer pulled the Orioles within 5-4. Lavelle walked Mike Young, and after he got pinch hitter Wiggins on an infield pop, Williams brought in right-hander Mark Eichhorn, who walked Lee Lacy.
Rick Burleson then doubled down the left field line to score Young with the tying run. But with runners on second and third, Eichhorn got out of the inning when Ripken Jr. grounded out.
Saying he had five other offers, Shirley told the Orioles today he will play somewhere else this season, preferably closer to his home in New Jersey. The Philadelphia Phillies appear his first choice . . .
Jim Crowley, son of Orioles batting coach Terry Crowley, was selected by the Orioles in last week's free draft.
A third baseman, Jim Crowley batted .344 for Dulaney High School in Baltimore County. His brother, shortstop Terry Jr., was drafted last year by the Orioles and is batting .362 in 12 games with Hagerstown of the Class A Carolina League.
Other Maryland players drafted by the Orioles include Virginia Tech pitcher Brad DuVall of Silver Spring, shortstop Daniel Patrick Martz of Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, and James Madison University third baseman Mark Steven Brockell, a native of Elkton . . .
Wiggins, upset about not playing, met with General Manager Hank Peters before tonight's game. Peters gave no encouragement that he'd be playing anytime soon.
The Orioles lead the American League in homers, extra base hits and slugging but have fallen to fourth in runs . . . Knight played his 270th career game at first base tonight before moving to third late in the game . . . Of Kennedy's 10 homers, eight have either tied a game, put the Orioles ahead or put them within one run.