BALTIMORE, JULY 24 -- He has been booed at home and taunted on the road, and tonight Bo Jackson made the kind of error that haunts careers.
Already in a horrendous batting slump, he misplayed a line drive in the eighth inning of a tie game to allow two runs to score and the Baltimore Orioles to beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-1, before 41,687 at Memorial Stadium.
His play was the biggest on a night when another big, noisy crowd watched the Orioles win their 10th straight game and their 13th of 16.
They did it with an odd mix, with Mike Flanagan and Tom Niedenfuer pitching a five-hitter, and with Larry Sheets delivering the biggest hit of the game and the only one involved in the winning rally.
They also did it on a night when the Royals deserved better. All the Orioles' runs scored in the eighth because of errors, one on reliever Steve Farr's bad throw and two more on Jackson's misplay. The result was that the Orioles were held without an earned run for a second straight night and Kansas City pitchers have now gone 28 innings without allowing an earned run -- but have won once.
"You've got to have some luck," Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said. "But you make your luck, too. Our guys did a good job. The pitching kept us in the game, and we had some great defensive plays."
The Royals had led, 1-0, since the first inning and, when the home eighth began, Bud Black was working on a six-hit shutout. When the game ended with their 13th loss in 16 games, they seemed almost stunned.
"Bo probably just took his eye off the ball," Royals Manager Bill Gardner said. "We've just got to get the offense going. The earned runs . . . I don't know. That's unbelievable."
Jackson was already struggling at the plate and tonight struck out twice in three at-bats before being removed for a pinch hitter in the ninth. Since the all-star break, as the speculation of a full-time NFL career has increased, he has gone two for 22 with 13 strikeouts.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have done almost everything right. They have a 2.72 ERA during the winning streak, and Flanagan pitched probably better than the Orioles thought possible, allowing a run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings.
He left with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth and got a long, emotional standing ovation from the crowd that included Lt. Col. Oliver North and his bevy of bodyguards. Flanagan was followed by Niedenfuer (2-2), who struck out pinch hitter Thad Bosley to end the eighth, then got the Royals in order in the ninth. In three appearances since the all-star break, Niedenfuer has two saves and a victory.
"I used the break to catch my breath and step back," he said. "I thought I could save something from this season, and I've been sharp. I've tried to change my thinking a little bit. I'm not trying to strike out everyone anymore. I'll settle for the grounder to short."
He struck out Bosley on a 92-mph fastball, and Ripken said, "He just threw the heck out of the ball. That's a good sign."
Flanagan survived a shaky start and was then outstanding, allowing only four hits in his last 6 2/3 innings. In the first, he was almost gone, though, after Kevin Seitzer doubled to left with one out.
George Brett dumped a single to center, with Seitzer stopping at third. Tartabull singled to center for the run. Brett went to third, but stayed there as Flanagan struck out Frank White and got Lonnie Smith on a fly to center.
After that, the Royals didn't get a runner as far as second until the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Orioles didn't do much with Black, either, getting only two runners as far as second in the first seven innings. But in the eighth, Sheets led off with a single, and Gardner wasted no time bringing in Farr.
"Black was tired," Gardner said.
Black said: "I felt pretty good. He just said, 'I'm going with Farr.' "
Ripken sent Alan Wiggins in to run for Sheets, and Farr walked pinch hitter Terry Kennedy. Then when Ken Gerhart bunted, the Royals self-destructed. Farr picked up the ball and, with time to get Wiggins at third, threw the ball down the left field line, allowing Wiggins to score and Kennedy and Gerhart to take third and second.
Ripken sent up left-hand-hitting Jim Dwyer to bat against Farr, and Gardner went for right-hander John Davis, who was making his major league debut. He intentionally walked Dwyer to load the bases. Bill Ripken hit a grounder to third, and Seitzer threw home to force Kennedy.
But with one out, Cal Ripken Jr. hit the liner toward Jackson in left. He sprinted to his right, but the ball ticked off his glove. Ripken Jr. was given credit for an RBI and sacrifice fly, with Gerhart and Dwyer both scoring when the ball rolled to the wall. Bill Ripken stopped at third and Cal Ripken at second.
Davis intentionally walked Eddie Murray to reload the bases, and Ray Knight's double-play grounder ended the inning.
"It's been exciting," Cal Ripken Jr. said. "This brings back good memories of the past."
What began as an innocent bit of verbal sparring in the clubhouse almost turned nasty this afternoon when Knight and coach Frank Robinson were separated by Ripken Sr. The incident apparently began when Knight slipped on the trainer's table. "Did you hurt yourself?" Robinson asked sarcastically. They exchanged a few words and a few more, and finally were screaming. After Ripken Sr. pulled them apart, they went into his office to discuss the matter. Both Knight and Robinson declined comment . . .
Bill Ripken's sixth-inning single extended his hitting streak to nine games. Since going hitless in his first six at-bats, he has gone 13 for 40 and raised his average from .000 to .283 . . .
The Orioles' 10-game winning streak is the third-longest in the majors this year. The only longer ones were by two other other American League East teams, Milwaukee (13 in a row) and Toronto (11).