Birds catch needed break when Williamson doesn't sustain one


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Want to know how bad the Orioles are going?

Well, the best thing that happened to them here last night was bruise.

When Mark Williamson walked off the pitcher's mound aftebeing hit by a line drive off the bat of Terry Shumpert in the seventh inning, it looked like the reliever was lost for the season. His right (pitching) arm dangled limply at his side and he could be seen telling trainer Richie Bancells: "I think it's broken."

Fortunately X-rays later revealed only a severe bruise and a cleaimprint of an American League baseball on the right forearm. "I think I have [AL president] Dr. Bobby Brown's autograph on my arm," Williamson said after returning to the clubhouse.

It was the only positive news Orioles manager John Oatereceived all night. He'd gotten some good news from starter Jeff Ballard (6 1/3 solid innings), but that was quickly overshadowed first by Williamson's injury and then an eventual 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Kansas City Royals.

The Orioles are now 10-17 since Oates replaced Frank Robinsoas manager. Nine of those losses have been by one run (as opposed to two victories by that margin).

There doesn't appear to be any set pattern, any more than thercould be a set cure for what ails the Orioles.

"Jeff and I were talking about that as we walked off the field,said Oates. "When we get a game pitched like this it seems like we're always scuffling for runs. When we give up a lot of runs, we manage to scramble for four or five."

As good as Ballard pitched, and it was one of the lefthander'better performances, marred mainly by a home run by Carmelo Martinez in the fifth inning, the Orioles never had much of a chance. Mike Boddicker went seven innings, allowing one run on Bob Melvin's bloop single in the seventh, Bob Montgomery went the next two, allowing a run on a bloop single by Joe Orsulak, and then Steve Crawford (2-0) swooped in to pick up the victory by pitching a scoreless 10th inning.

"There was nothing wrong with the pitching," said Oates. "Wneed more of those kind of performances when we're scoring a few runs."

With Cal Ripken in an 0-for-13 slump, Mike Devereaux (threhits), Orsulak (two) and Sam Horn (two walks and a hit-by-pitch) represented virtually all of the Orioles' offense. The problem was those three were spread throughout the lineup (1-4-7), with sufficient outs mixed in between.

Todd Frohwirth (1-1) was the loser, giving up a game-winning hito Brian McRae that floated over the Orioles' defense. A leadoff walk to Kurt Stillwell spelled Frohwirth's downfall in the 10th and, after a sacrifice bunt by Shumpert, McRae lofted his game-winner just beyond Brady Anderson, who was playing shallow in leftfield.

" In that situation,the ball in front of you is going to beat you moroften than the one over your head," said Oates." The pitch was up enough to let him elevate the ball,but you don't expect to see him hit it over your head to the opposite field."

Kansas City manager Hal McRae on Boddicker: "Since the [inflamed elbow] injury he's basically a seven-inning pitcher.If he doesn't throw very many pitches he might go a little further,but basically we're looking for seven innings."

The Royals who inaugurated a 7-2 road trip with three wins in Baltimore,have won three in a row and eight of their last 10.They are 16-10 since McRae replaced John Wathan during the managers' purge last month.

The Orioles are now 0-5 in extra-inning games, 5-14 in games Last night in games decided by one run, have lost three in a row and are back in in last place in the AL.East.

In their last 21 games, the Orioles have gone 8-6 against first -place teams and 0-7 in the others.Go ahead, figure it out.

Last night marked the 500th game in which Cal and Bill Ripken played together. It is easily the most games played by brothers in major-league history.

The O'Brien twins, Eddie and Johnny, played approximately 10games together (an exact number has not been determined) for the Pirates in the mid-1950s.

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