BOSTON, JULY 1 -- In a game that had all the drama of a bowl of cold chowder, Roger Clemens pitched a six-hitter and the Boston Red Sox battered another Baltimore starter for a 6-2 victory tonight before 33,075 at Fenway Park.
So, coming off their worst single month in history, a 5-23 June, the Orioles started another with their 27th loss in 32 games and their sixth straight to the Red Sox.
At 31-47, they are 18 games out of first place and have finished a stretch of 26 games against the American League East by going 4-22.
Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr., possibly heartened by seeing his pitching staff hold an opponent to fewer than nine runs, almost seemed encouraged.
"I'm not ready to concede anything this year," he said. "I'm not to the point where I've given up on this year. We've just got to get some guys who'll give up less than four runs per game."
That didn't happen tonight. The Red Sox got five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings off Orioles starter Mike Griffin (0-2), and included in their 12 hits was rookie Todd Benzinger's first major league home run.
If Ripken was happy, others weren't.
"This is the worst major league pitching I've ever been around," Orioles third baseman Ray Knight said. "We're out there still trying, but it's tough when you're down, 4-0, every game."
Boston led by 1-0 after three innings and 4-0 after four, and after that the excitement was whether Clemens (7-6) would get his league-leading fourth shutout and the second zero-strikeout start of his career. His only previous no-strikeout start was last Oct. 1 when he was injured in the second inning against the Orioles.
The Orioles did break up the shutout with Terry Kennedy's bases-loaded single in the ninth, but no "K" signs went up. Clemens retired the first 10 Orioles and didn't allow a hit until Kennedy singled with two outs in the fifth. Larry Sheets followed with a double, but Clemens got Rick Burleson on a groundout to end the inning. He allowed only one more base runner until the ninth.
"He was in control all the way," Red Sox Manager John McNamara said. "He was around the strike zone all night, and he did pretty much what he wanted. We hit the ball well, and that helped him."
There is a controversy in New England over whether Clemens and his 7-6 record deserve to make the American League all-star team. It appears he won't, and that will cost him $300,000 in bonuses over the next two seasons.
Still, while he might not match last season's 24-4, he's among the league leaders in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and complete games. The Orioles say he wasn't 95-mph perfect, but he wasn't bad.
"He rates way up there," Kennedy said. "He really pitched when he had to. After it was 4-0, he could have just fired fastballs, but he kept pitching. He mixed in some sliders and breaking pitches and didn't give in."
The moral victory for the Orioles was that Boston third baseman Wade Boggs didn't get any of the 12 Red Sox hits. Four Orioles pitchers held him hitless in five plate appearances, although he did reach base on pitcher Tom Niedenfuer's fielding error in the eighth. Boggs is still hitting a league-leading .384.
As for the rest of the game, it looked a lot like the others in this six-game trip in which the Orioles have lost five and allowed 52 earned runs in 52 innings.
Griffin, making his second start, had an easy first inning but was in trouble pretty much the rest of the game. He left runners on first and third in the second inning, but gave up a run in the third, three in the fourth and another in the fifth before leaving.
In the third, Benzinger doubled off the Green Monster with one out and scored on Don Baylor's single to left. It went to 4-0 in the fourth. That inning began with a single by Bill Buckner. He went to second on Spike Owen's sacrifice bunt and scored on Rich Gedman's single to center. Gedman went to second on Marty Barrett's infield grounder. Benzinger then hit his first major league homer into the right-field bleachers for a 4-0 lead.
The Red Sox got a fifth run on Baylor's sacrifice fly and their sixth on an infield single by Dwight Evans in the sixth.
After Griffin, Ripken used Doug Corbett for 1 2/3 innings and Tony Arnold and Niedenfuer for an inning apiece.
Clemens, meanwhile, was in control until the ninth, when the Orioles loaded the bases on a single by Lee Lacy, a walk to Eddie Murray and a single by Knight. Kennedy singled to right for two runs, but Clemens got Sheets on a fly to left to end it.
Reliever Don Aase had an arthrogram performed on his injured right shoulder today at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and his doctors will decide Friday what type of treatment or surgery is required. The Orioles don't expect him to pitch again this season . . . The Orioles haven't won back-to-back games since May 27-28 . . . Ripken said he'll meet with Scott McGregor in the next couple of days "to get his thoughts on where he's at right now. I want to know his state of mind." Ripken said he intends to tell McGregor he "can't keep sending him out there" with the current results. McGregor has allowed seven earned runs in his last two innings of work, and although they won't say it, the Orioles apparently would like him to accept a demotion to the minors to try to work out his problems . . .
Orioles starters were 4-14 with a 5.35 ERA in June. Sheets led the club with 18 RBI and Kennedy led with seven homers. Alan Wiggins hit .186 with no RBI . . . The Orioles fly to Minneapolis Thursday morning and play the Twins in a weekend series in the Metrodome.