ARLINGTON, TEX., JULY 5 -- The frustration mounts. The Baltimore Orioles' on-again, off-again hitters were off again tonight. After scoring nine runs the night before, they lost to the Texas Rangers, 3-2, before 27,151 at Arlington Stadium.
With the bases loaded and left-handed reliever Kenny Rogers struggling, Frank Robinson had run out of right-handed hitters and had to stay with Brad Komminsk, who was hitless in his first three at-bats and one for his last 19.
Komminsk tapped weakly to third, and the Orioles lost for the 15th time in 21 games and fell to sixth in the American League East, 11 games behind front-running Boston. They are 5 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees, who have baseball's worst record.
The Orioles did get a quality start from Bob Milacki (4-5), who went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. And Cal Ripken surpassed Ed Brinkman's major league record for consecutive errorless chances by a shortstop -- he had seven to run his total to 338 -- while running his AL record streak to 76 games. But it wasn't enough to help the Orioles to gain ground.
"It's going to be a tough chore -- no doubt about it -- but it's not insurmountable," Robinson said. "It can happen quick. But we need to get hot."
So far, that's been a tall order for the Orioles, who entered the game batting .249, tied for last in the AL.
Their struggles continued tonight. They got seven hits off Mike Jeffcoat (3-3) -- three in the third inning, including Mike Devereaux's solo homer. But he retired 13 in a row before Bob Melvin's leadoff single in the eighth.
Rogers relieved after Ripken's bloop double down the right field line with one out in the ninth and earned his sixth save the hard way. He got Craig Worthington on a soft liner to right, then walked Chris Hoiles. Bill Ripken, pinch-hitting for the first time in his career, beat out a hit -- second baseman Jeff Huson dived to stop it from getting through and tying the game. Rogers then retired Komminsk to end the game.
"When the ball was hit, I just wanted to knock it down," Huson said. "Then I just wanted to keep the run from scoring."
Texas took a 3-1 lead by manufacturing a run in the seventh with a walk, sacrifice, ground ball to the left side and Julio Franco's two-out single to right. The Orioles got a run back in the eighth on pinch hitter Mickey Tettleton's single. But their chances before that were few against Jeffcoat, who in his previous five starts was 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA.
Milacki matched Jeffcoat until the seventh. He had allowed consecutive two-out doubles to Jack Daugherty and Pete Incaviglia in the fourth, and Rafael Palmeiro's eighth home run of the season leading off the sixth. Otherwise, he stayed ahead of hitters and out of danger.
"I felt like tonight's performance is one of my better ones," he said. "At least now I'm keeping us in the game."
That's all Robinson expects: "He pitched a good ballgame. He did a good job at stopping the potential big innings.
"It baffles me in the sense that we've played almost half the season without putting it together. We'll win one, then lose one. We'll win two, then lose two. It's frustrating."