CLEVELAND, JUNE 19 -- The Baltimore Orioles humbled another of the American League's best pitchers tonight, but then it was their ace's turn.
Handed a tie when Cal Ripken singled in a run off Cleveland Indians reliever extraordinaire Doug Jones with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, the Orioles' Gregg Olson allowed a run-scoring single to Sandy Alomar with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and the Orioles lost to the Indians, 5-4, at Cleveland Stadium.
Baltimore, which shellacked Boston's Roger Clemens for seven runs Monday night, lost for the sixth time in seven games. Cleveland won for the fourth consecutive time, equaling its longest winning streak of the season.
First-place Toronto's loss to the Red Sox kept the sixth-place Orioles, already 7 1/2 games back, from falling further behind in the AL East.
But the evening began with the news outfielder Phil Bradley will have arthroscopic surgery Friday to repair torn cartilage in his left wrist and probably miss six weeks to three months.
In the game, starting pitcher Bob Milacki pitched as inconsistently as ever, third baseman Craig Worthington made two throwing errors and reliever Mark Williamson was allowed to pitch only 1 1/3 innings when he developed stiffness in his lower back.
Williamson's pain, which he said was caused by a combination of Cleveland Stadium's flat and hard pitcher's mound and fatigue from throwing so many innings recently, was the reason Olson entered with the score tied rather than with the Orioles ahead, as is usually the case.
With one out in the eighth, No. 9 batter Felix Fermin doubled to right-center for the first extra-base hit Olson has allowed to a right-handed batter since Aug. 12. It was Fermin's first three-hit game of the season. Olson walked Stan Jefferson on a 3-2 pitch and got Jerry Browne to line out on a 3-2 pitch that was high enough to have been called a ball.
Olson got ahead of Alomar, 0-2. With the count 1-2, Alomar fouled off one pitch and barely checked his swing on another. Olson then threw a curveball he said "was not my best and not worst, but in that situation was not good enough."
Alomar stroked it cleanly up the middle. Fermin scored and Mike Devereaux threw out Jefferson at third on a call argued by Jefferson and third-base coach Rich Dauer, two of the many former Orioles players, coaches and staff now with the Indians.
Olson, who entered having pitched one inning in seven days and having had no save opportunities in 10 days, said the lack of work was not a problem.
"It didn't matter," said Olson (3-1), who lost for the first time since July 30. "Those things happen. The same with Doug Jones."
Jones, who had converted 21 of 24 save opportunities this season, also entered at the start of the eighth and also was not sharp.
He walked Mickey Tettleton to begin the inning. Joe Orsulak hit a fly into the deep right field corner. Tettleton tagged up and dove into second ahead of strong-armed Cory Snyder's throw. It proved to be a big play when Ripken singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch.
But Greg Walker grounded into a double play and Jones retired the Orioles in order in the ninth.
"The team is not in a rut," Manager Frank Robinson said. "The team is not playing well. We are not doing things fundamentally."
Foremost among the culprits tonight was Milacki. The right-hander, who came close to being scratched from this start on Monday because of some soreness in his right shoulder, gave a performance that has been typical for him this season. He pitched in trouble throughout as he fell behind in counts and gave up plenty of walks and hard-hit balls.
Robinson had the bullpen working in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but Milacki survived until the sixth.
With one out and the Orioles trailing, 4-3, Fermin doubled down the left field line and moved to third on Jefferson's grounder to first. Browne, who had doubled, homered and walked, walked again as Milacki pitched carefully with first base open and Alomar, who was zero for three, on deck.
Milacki got ahead of Alomar, 1-2, but Browne stole second on a pitch that made the count 2-2. Robinson called for Williamson.
"Basically, I was falling behind with the change-up," said Milacki, who threw 113 pitches in his 5 1/3 innings, but said his shoulder felt okay. "And that's a pitch I have to throw for strikes."
Williamson filled the count, then struck out Alomar. Williamson pitched the seventh, but then told trainer Richie Bancells and pitching coach Al Jackson about his back.
The Orioles handed Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring error by Worthington.
Baltimore went ahead in the third. Devereaux singled with one out and broke for second with Steve Finley at the plate. Catcher Alomar made a high throw that went off the top of Browne's glove and into shallow center field. Jefferson rushed in to back up the play, but he somehow overran the slow rolling ball. Devereaux scampered to third. He scored on a single by Finley.
With two out, Randy Milligan hit a line drive down the right field line. Finley headed to third and Milligan to second. Snyder botched the pickup, and Finley came home to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
The advantage didn't survive Cleveland's first batter of the third. With the count 3-2, Milacki served up a thigh-high fastball that Browne belted over the right field fence for his second home run of the season.
Milacki got the next two batters, but walked Ken Phelps. Up stepped Brook Jacoby, who entered batting .390 in his last 10 games. Milacki's 1-1 pitch was another thigh-high number, and Jacoby deposited it in the left field stands for his eighth homer and a 4-2 lead for the Indians.
In the fifth, Baltimore closed to 4-3. With one out, Finley singled and Tim Hulett and Milligan walked. Tettleton, one for eight this season with the bases loaded, hit a liner to deep center that brought home Finley.