BALTIMORE, SEPT. 9 -- If the Baltimore Orioles hadn't already reached so many lows and scraped so many embarrassing firsts the last two seasons, this might be another.

For 13 months, these Orioles have created a new standard for themselves, and they stuck solidly to it tonight, losing twice to the Detroit Tigers. They dropped the first game, 7-4, and the second, 6-0, as a crowd of 21,579 at Memorial Stadium alternately booed the home team and cheered the visitors.

The sweep gave the Tigers (84-54) a 1 1/2-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East and dropped the Orioles 22 1/2 behind. At 62-77, the Orioles could be eliminated from the race Thursday, their earliest in 25 years. Their magic number is two.


They're 76-119 since Aug. 6, 1986, which is 43 games under .500 and translates to a .390 winning percentage.

They're 6-36 against the five teams ahead of them in the AL East standings and 4-25 against the four clubs left on their schedule. They're 13-42 versus all AL East teams.

The Tigers lead the season series, 7-2, and have outscored the Orioles 63-34.

The Orioles used eight pitchers tonight and they totaled one strikeout.

"I wasn't happy about anything that went on out there tonight," said Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr., who held a pregame team meeting that dealt with playing hard and playing well.

Detroit's Doyle Alexander completed the sweep with a six-hitter. He's 5-0 for the Tigers and, in the last four Septembers (for three teams), he's 16-3.

The Tigers got 11 hits in each game, and rookie Scott Lusader's two-run triple in the fourth inning was the game-winning hit in the second game. Bill Madlock's two-run homer was the winning hit in the first game, but, for the night, they also got rookie catcher Matt Nokes' 28th homer and second baseman Lou Whitaker's 16th.

Baltimore's Mike Boddicker (10-8) lasted only 3 2/3 innings and took the second-game loss. Ken Dixon (7-9) pitched to three hitters in the first game and got the loss.

"No comment," Dixon snapped, when asked why he'd been taken out early.

Ripken Sr. seemed particularly miffed at Dixon, saying: "To me, it looked like his arm was bothering him. He said it was fine. If it's fine, he ought to be able to throw better than that."

The bright spot for the Orioles continues to be the rookies at the top of the order. Pete Stanicek started the first game and singled twice. The man behind him, Bill Ripken, was on base five times with three hits and two walks and is hitting .321. Stanicek is hitting .348 after six games.

In the first game, Madlock's two-run first-inning homer got the Tigers started, and Walt Terrell (13-10) went six-plus innings for the victory.

After Dixon, Ripken Sr. used Mike Griffin for five innings (three earned runs), Scott McGregor for 1 2/3 (no runs), Tony Arnold for 1 1/3 (no runs) and Mike Kinnunen for an inning (no runs).

But the game was over in the first after Dixon walked leadoff man Whitaker and allowed Madlock's 13th homer. Darrell Evans then singled and that was it for Dixon.

Alan Trammell tripled off Griffin to make it 3-0, and he eventually scored on Johnny Grubb's double. The Tigers scored two more on Nokes' 28th homer in the third.

The oddity for the Tigers wasn't that they won, but that Terrell did. He's 11-2 at Tiger Stadium this season, but only 2-8 on the road. Since he joined them two years ago, he's 30-7 at Tiger Stadium, 13-25 on the road.

"That's not going to be talked about," he said. "It's been overplayed."

The second game had a bit more drama. A bit more. It was scoreless until the fourth when the Tigers sent 10 men to the plate and batted around for the fourth time in the series. They ended it with a 5-0 lead and with Boddicker in the dugout with his eighth loss.

Trammell led off with a single and stole second. Nokes walked. Chet Lemon grounded out and moved the runners to second and third. Lusader tripled off the left-field wall to score both runs. He scored himself on Larry Herndon's fly to left. Tom Brookens singled, and Whitaker homered for a 5-0 lead and the run that sent Boddicker to the dugout.