BALTIMORE, SEPT. 20 -- The Orioles lost to the Boston Red Sox today, 5-1 and 6-3, but two of their young pitchers, Eric Bell and Jose Mesa, showed they will compete for starting jobs next season.

Neither did well enough, though, to keep the Orioles from being swept for the sixth time in their last seven doubleheaders before an announced crowd of 20,647 at Memorial Stadium.

Todd Benzinger's ninth inning homer off Tom Niedenfuer, on an 0-2 pitch, helped the Red Sox win the nightcap. Wes Gardner (2-6) got the victory, even though he gave up a game-tying, two-run homer to Fred Lynn in the eighth.

Luis DeLeon (0-2), who relieved Bell, got the loss because he put on the lead hitter in the ninth before Niedenfuer entered the game.

"Nothing to say," Niedenfuer said. "It was a home run. Why don't you talk to {Benzinger}, or whatever his name is?"

Rookie John Leister (1-1) of the Red Sox took a 13.85 ERA into the game. He allowed two hits in the fourth and three in the fifth but escaped partially because of the Orioles' base running. Eddie Murray was caught wandering off second base in the fourth, then, in the fifth, Mike Hart was caught trying to steal third. The next hitter singled.

In the opener, Roger Clemens (17-9) pitched his 15th complete game of the season, a three-hitter. Dwight Evans' three-run homer in the eighth, his 34th, provided breathing room.

In the second game, Bell pitched better than he had in weeks. It was only his second game, and first start, since Sept. 5. He gave up one earned run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings, and struck out eight.

DeLeon allowed two inherited runners to score unearned runs. Evans singled one home and Benzinger's grounder to short scored Marty Barrett.

Granted, Bell faced mostly reserves. Then again, when you haven't won a game since July 29 and have a 7.81 ERA over your last eight games, you don't get picky.

"I had a pretty good change-up," he said, "and when I threw the fastball I threw it up and away. I was throwing the fastball for strikes today. They've been sitting on the fastball lately."

Mesa (0-2), optained for Mike Flanagan, showed Baltimore his strong arm and talent, without the wildness that has plagued him in the minors. He was clocked at 93 mph and struck out six in his fourth game since joining the Orioles Sept. 4.

After a second inning homer to Sam Horn, Mesa retired eight of nine, getting the side in order in the third and fourth.

He tired in the eighth, when Barrett and Wade Boggs began the inning with singles. With one down, Evans hit a 2-0 fastball for a towering homer to left.

Mesa then struck out the next two. "I really got mad when I threw the home run," he said, "because I was trying to pitch inside, so I just wanted to throw as hard as I could."

"I was pleased with the way Jose Mesa threw, and I was pleased with the way Eric Bell pitched," Orioles Manager Cal Ripken said. "{Mesa}'s going to be a big-league pitcher someday. I don't know just when that day's going to be, but he's going to be a big-league pitcher someday."

Clemens already is. He was overpowering, striking out nine, and was especially mean to Ray Knight (three strikeouts) and Lynn (two). Clemens has won 13 of his last 16 decisions and, if he hadn't held out and started the season slowly, would seem to have a lock on his second straight Cy Young Award.

Orioles Notes:

Third baseman Ron Washington bruised his right knee trying to backhand Ed Romero's double in the fifth inning of the second game. He left the game.