DETROIT, June 28 -- A bad game in a bad season ended in a light rain with dusk settling over Tiger Stadium. For the Baltimore Orioles, that was a perfect touch.
Their latest loss ended with one out in the last of the 11th inning, when Alan Trammell bounced a single up the middle to score Matt Nokes and give Detroit an 8-7 victory before what once was a crowd of 31,606.
When the Orioles remember this day, Trammell will be nothing more than a footnote to another horrible performance by Baltimore's bullpen, especially Tom Niedenfuer.
It was Niedenfuer who failed to protect a 7-4 lead in the ninth by giving up consecutive no-out homers to Johnny Grubb, Matt Nokes and Bill Madlock -- Madlock's third of the game. The Orioles had a 7-2 lead four innings earlier, marking the 13th time their relievers have blown a lead in the seventh inning or later.
"No, I ain't going to cut my wrist," Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said. "It's a tough one to swallow, but I'll swallow it. I had my best guy out there trying to get the outs."
Madlock's third homer was Detroit's fifth of the day; Baltimore has allowed a major league-leading 111 in 75 games. Orioles hitters lead the majors with 112.
Niedenfuer came to the Orioles last month hoping people would forget he was the Los Angeles Dodger who allowed Jack Clark's 1985 pennant-winning homer. They may yet forget that one if he continues to give up home runs at his current pace: seven in 19 1/3 innings since joining the Orioles.
He was pitching today after 2 1/3 perfect innings in Saturday's victory and said he didn't have his best fastball. However, he refused to alibi.
"That's a first for me," he said. "I'd never even allowed two homers in the same game before. I could have made better pitches even without my best stuff. I didn't have strikeout stuff, but I still should have gotten out of it, but I just wasn't throwing real well."
He had been brought in to protect a 7-3 lead in the eighth and yielded a single to Chet Lemon for 7-4.
He then opened the ninth by giving up Grubb's homer. He threw a strike to Nokes before getting another fastball over the middle of the plate: 7-6.
When Niedenfuer fell behind Madlock, 2-0, Ripken walked to the mound to offer encouraging words. The next pitch was right down the middle, and Madlock banged his third homer, off the facing of the upper deck in left field to make it 7-7.
"Homers aren't my game," said Madlock, who began the game in a zero-for-21 slump. "It was just circumstances that the ball went out today. I think today was the first time I've been ahead in the count in a long, long time."
The Orioles might have known what was ahead after a long, weird first inning. Fred Lynn's three-run homer gave Baltimore a 3-0 lead, but rookie Eric Bell nearly gave it away.
Madlock's first homer brought Detroit within 3-2, and after Bell walked the bases loaded, Ripken brought in another rookie, John Habyan, who allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.
The Orioles appeared to break the game open with three runs in the fourth for a 6-2 lead. Two came on a triple by Jim Dwyer and another on a single by Eddie Murray, who was three for five.
They made it 7-2 in the fifth when an infield out by Mike Young scored Terry Kennedy. Madlock's second homer made it 7-3 in the last of the fifth, and the Orioles left five runners on base in the last six innings as the Tigers got 1 2/3 innings of relief from Mark Thurmond, 4 2/3 from Eric King and one from Willie Hernandez (1-1).
Their best chance was in the sixth. Cal Ripken Jr. reached on an error by third baseman Darnell Coles and Murray doubled. But as Ripken rounded third, he fell and had to retreat. Thurmond intentionally walked Fred Lynn, and King got Ray Knight to hit into an inning-ending double play.
"A piece of sod came loose," Ripken said. "I didn't stumble. The ground just gave way."
So the Tigers got back with a run in the eighth and three in the ninth. Then in the 11th, Nokes led off with a single, and Madlock sacrificed. Doug Corbett (0-2) walked Kirk Gibson intentionally, and Trammell won it.
"I broke his bat and got him to hit a ground ball," Corbett said. "It just went through. I'm not happy about it, but tomorrow is another day. That's the only way you can look at it."