OAKLAND, Calif. -- Somebody was going to pay for the wa the Oakland Athletics were embarrassed over the weekend. The struggling Baltimore Orioles just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Bash Brothers were nursing some bruised egos after the Cleveland Indians scored 35 runs in two games at the Oakland Coliseum, so they took it out on the team that good fortune forgot.
Designated hitter Harold Baines hit three home runs and had seven RBI, as the A's chased Ben McDonald early and scored a resounding 11-3 victory over the Orioles in the opener of a two-game series.
Baines broke an Oakland record with 14 total bases and became only the second player to hit three homers in a game at the Coliseum. Reggie Jackson hit three here against the Seattle Pilots on July 2, 1969. Baines came to the plate with a chance at a major-league-record-tying fourth home run in the eighth inning, but walked on four pitches.
"It was just one of those days where everything I hit went over a fence," Baines said. "Wherever the ball was pitched, I tried to drive it. You don't care who's pitching. If you get the right pitch, you just try to attack it."
was the seventh three-homer performance against the Orioles, the most recent previous to Baines' delivered by then-Toronto Blue Jay Ernie Whitt, who was behind the plate for the Orioles last night for three home-run pitches.
Baines had hit only one home run in his first 79 at-bats this season, but three Orioles pitchers, all starters by trade, served up the night of his life. The seven RBI were a career high, but it was the third time in his career that he has hit three homers in a game.
The Orioles, who looked like they might pull out of a lengthy slump after Monday night's lopsided victory over the California Angels, lost for the 10th time in their past 16 games.
Orioles starter Ben McDonald was coming off his best performance of the season -- a six-inning, two-hit performance against the Angels on Friday -- but you never would have suspected that in the first inning. He was behind by four runs before he had pitched to the fifth batter in the A's lineup.
Rickey Henderson walked to lead off the first inning, and Dave Henderson pulled a double down the left-field line. Both runners scored when a ground ball by Jose Canseco glanced off Cal Ripken's glove for an error.
It was Ripken's second error in three games, which is an indication of just how bad things have been going for the Orioles of late. Before Sunday's game, when his 51-game errorless streak was broken, Ripken had committed just two errors in 179 games, but no one has been spared by the team-wide slump.
McDonald has been right in the middle of it. He has pitched well just once in his first four starts this year. Take away Friday night's six shutout innings and he would have a 14.46 ERA. As it is, his overall ERA is a frightening 8.80.
"I'm discouraged, but I'm not to the point where I'm panicking, McDonald said. "I stunk tonight. I didn't do anything right tonight, but it's too early to get down about something like this. There's a lot of the season left and I'm anxious to get back out there."
Baines turned it into a miserable night in a hurry. He blasted two-run homer to complete the four-run first inning and delivered a run-scoring double in the third to hasten McDonald's early departure from the game.
Canseco opened the third inning with a single and stole second on a disputed play. Ernie Whitt's throw to Ripken was in plenty of time, but umpire Rich Garcia ruled that Canseco evaded the tag, which set off an argument with Ripken that lasted for several minutes.
Baines followed with a drive to deep center field that short-hopped the wall and brought Canseco home from second. McDonald left the game after walking Mark McGwire, but Dave Johnson fared no better in relief.
He gave up an RBI single to Ernest Riles with two out in the third and surrendered a three-run shot to Baines in the fourth.
The final Baines home run came off another erstwhile Orioles starter, Jeff Robinson, who served up a bases-empty shot to center with two out in the sixth.
"We just didn't make good pitches out there, and against tha ballclub, you have to make a lot of good pitches," manager Frank Robinson said. "We didn't do that tonight, and we paid the price."
The Orioles got on the board in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Tim Hulett and added another run when a line drive by Ripken bounced off Dave Henderson's glove and cleared the center-field fence.
Designated hitter Sam Horn had a big night at the plate, hitting safely in each of his first three at-bats.
Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum
Orioles starter: Jeff Robinson (1-3, 6.75)
Athletics starter: Dave Stewart (2-2, 5.77)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)