FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When the time came for Jeff Robinson to deliver more than a promise of better things to come, he did it in style.
His third exhibition appearance was more what the Baltimore Orioles had in mind when they acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for catcher Mickey Tettleton. Robinson pitched five innings, gave up one hit and would have gotten the win if the New York Yankees had not come back against rookie Mike Mussina to score an 8-4 Grapefruit League victory at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
The Yankees scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning, thanks to a fielding error by shortstop Juan Bell and a throwing error by third baseman Leo Gomez, but Robinson did not give up another hit after Roberto Kelly led off with a solid double to left.
Pitching coach Al Jackson was looking for Robinson to display better command of the strike zone after a pair of rocky exhibition performances raised doubts about his effectiveness. Robinson responded, though he insisted last week that he seldom pitches well this early in spring training.
He continues to be plagued by faulty defense. Of the 11 runs he has given up in the past two games, only one has been earned. The Orioles committed four errors -- two by Bell -- in Robinson's first two innings yesterday.
Mussina gave up three runs on four hits in the sixth inning, two of them on a game-tying single by Yankees right fielder Van Snider. He also gave up a home run to Hensley Muelens in a three-run eighth inning.
* The Cincinnati Reds are in search of a left-handed middle reliever and reportedly have had a scout watching the Orioles, even though no left-handed surplus exists in the Baltimore bullpen. The Reds could solve the Orioles' outfield depth problem with one of their extra outfielders -- perhaps Glenn Braggs -- but it would only make sense if left-handers Kevin Hickey, Mike Flanagan, Paul Kilgus and Joe Price all are pitching well enough at final cut time to create a surplus.
* Yankees pitcher Mike Witt is suffering from elbow soreness and will miss at least two exhibition starts. He underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging to discover the source of the pain, but the results have not been released. If the injury turns out to be serious, it would be another major blow to the Yankees front office, which signed Witt to a three-year, $8 million contract during the off-season.
* First baseman Sam Horn entered yesterday's game as the preseason leader in slugging percentage (1.000), tied for the RBI lead (11) and ranked among the leaders in batting average (.474), on-base percentage (.524), home runs (2) and total bases (19).
Pitcher Jeff Ballard also ranks among the major-league leaders in several departments. He is second to Jack Morris with nine strikeouts, tied for second with 12 innings pitched, and ranked seventh with an 0.75 ERA. Flanagan's perfect ERA qualifies him for a share of the major-league lead in that department.
* Cal Ripken had three consecutive singles against the Tigers in the "B" game in Sarasota before grounding out in his final plate appearance.
Ripken is 9-for-14 (.643) in the past five games.
But he also committed his second error on a routine ground ball by Fryman.
* Mark Williamson garnered his first save of the spring with two scoreless innings at Sarasota. He had allowed five runs (three earned) in two previous outings.
* General manager Roland Hemond said the problem with first baseman Glenn Davis' neck is "muscular and nothing of great seriousness. He should be back playing in the near future."