BALTIMORE, MAY 24 -- The Baltimore Orioles went quietly into another night as Jack McDowell and four relievers pitched a six-hitter to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 5-3 victory before 23,344 at Memorial Stadium.
It was the White Sox's fifth straight victory against the Orioles this season and seventh straight overall; and it ran their record to 23-14 -- this from a team that lost 92 times in 1989 and looked like their rebuilding program might extend into the next century.
A year ago, the Orioles wore these spurs. But as they left Memorial Stadium for the start of a 13-game road trip Friday in Texas, they found themselves seven games under .500 (17-24) and still in last place in the American League East.
They were in this game only briefly. The White Sox scored all their runs in the fourth inning, getting a three-run home run from Ron Kittle and a two-run single from Wednesday night's hero, Dan Pasqua.
Orioles starter Jay Tibbs (2-5) allowed all the White Sox' scores, and Kittle's home run -- his third in the last seven games -- was the seventh Tibbs has given up in 21 innings at Memorial Stadium.
Tibbs wasn't very good, but he needed to be almost perfect on yet another night when the Orioles didn't hit. Tonight was the 18th time the Orioles have gotten six or fewer hits, and they've gone 1-17 in those games.
They also struck out 12 times, three of them coming in the fifth when they had a chance to get back into the game. With two Orioles on base and none out, dazzling rookie left-hander Scott Radinsky (4-0) came in and struck out Brad Komminsk, Cal Ripken and Mickey Tettleton -- boom, boom, boom.
"The game was on the line and we didn't get it done," Orioles Manager Frank Robinson said. "We're just not playing the kind of baseball we played last year. Maybe our record wasn't that much different, but there's a big difference in the way we're playing."
Their bright spots were again Joe Orsulak and Tettleton, who've pretty much carried what Orioles offense there has been. Both homered, and Orsulak also singled and scored the first Baltimore run, in the second inning.
Tettleton's home run in the eighth inning was his fifth in eight games and Orsulak's in the fourth inning was his fourth in three games, the fifth in seven outings.
But they didn't have much help. The rest of Robinson's lineup had six hitters batting .225 or less and only Orsulak (.309) was above .300. The Orioles built their hopes for 1990 hoping that their young players would continue to improve, and what they've gotten has been almost a worst-case scenario. Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch have both performed up to expectations, but almost everyone else, from Craig Worthington and Randy Milligan to Jeff Ballard and Bob Milacki, has been a disappointment.
McDowell went only four-plus innings and allowed five hits and both early Orioles runs. He was followed by Radinsky, who was overpowering for 2 1/3. Donn Pall and Barry Jones got the White Sox to the ninth when Bobby Thigpen took over and finished for his 13th save, his second in two nights.
The Orioles left nine men on base and went zero for seven with runners in scoring position. A lot of their offense again ended with slumping shortstop Cal Ripken, who came up four times with runners aboard. He left all of them there, walking in the first, flying to left in the third, striking out in the fifth and grounding into a fielder's choice in the seventh.
He's hitting .140 with runners in scoring position and his overall average is down to .221, a measly .150 at Memorial Stadium.
Ripken shouldn't get all the blame, but because he's the highest-paid Oriole and the last link to the 1983 championship team, he's the one counted on to do more.
"We're just not getting any consistency," Milligan said. "Last year, we could always hang in there until the end and pull them out. We're not doing that."
Tibbs took the Orioles out of this one in a hurry. A single by Orsulak and double by Rene Gonzales gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second, but Tibbs held it only until the fourth.
Lance Johnson led off the inning by looping a double inside the left field line. Ivan Calderon laid a perfect bunt down the third-base line, then stole second. Pasqua scored them both with a single to right
Carlton Fisk beat out an infield grounder to shortstop, and Kittle hit Tibbs's next pitch over the wall in right-center for a 5-1 lead.
"The frustrating part is that's the best stuff I've had," Tibbs said. "It doesn't matter because it still amounted to five runs, but confidence-wise, this game was good for me. They hit a lot of balls off the fists or had some bloops. The only bad pitch was the one to Kittle -- a hanging slider."
Tibbs was excellent both before and after that, but that turned out to be the one that counted. That home run was the eighth he has allowed in 33 innings.
McDowell couldn't pitch well enough to benefit from it. Orsulak's fourth home run in nine at-bats made it 5-2 in the fourth, and when the first two Orioles reached base in the fifth, McDowell was gone.
Manager Jeff Torborg went for Radinsky, who has made a stunningly successful jump from Class A to the big leagues. "I told him to treat it as if it was a save situation and do whatever you have to do to get us out of the inning," Torborg said.
Orioles Notes: Phil Bradley, who has a number of nagging injuries, was on the bench for the sixth time in 12 games although he said he's ready to play.