TONIGHT: With little success at home, Birds fly off to test maturing Mariners


Two teams heading in opposite directions clash tonight when the sinking Orioles travel to Seattle to tackle the rising Mariners for the fourth time in less than two weeks.

Tonight's meeting (10:05, Channel 2) kicks off a six-game road trip for the Orioles, who follow three games in the Kingdome with three in Chicago.

But if the schedule maker was unkind in sending the Orioles on an odd journey through different time zones, he may have been kind in sending them away at all.

For a reason that defies explanation, the Orioles have been almost as proficient on the road under manager John Oates, winning 15 of 29 games, only one fewer than the number they have won at Memorial Stadium in 47 tries this year.

"I wish I knew," was all Oates could say of the Orioles' 16-31 home record, the worst in the majors since Atlanta posted the same mark in 1988.

The Mariners return home having just completed a 7-4 road tour of Milwaukee, Baltimore, (where they took two of three) New York and Cleveland.

Seattle's 12-5 record since the All-Star break is the club's best second-half start in its 14-year history. The Mariners will be looking to finish above .500 for the first time this year.

Much of the Mariners' success can be attributed to Ken Griffey Jr. and his emergence as a bona fide star. Griffey, the AL's top vote-getter in the All-Star Game, has been on a tear. In his last eight games, he is hitting .563 (18-for-32) with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Last week, Griffey hit his first grand slam, tied his career-high of four RBIs, and had his first five-hit game.

Tonight Bob Milacki (6-4, 4.03) faces Erik Hanson (5-5, 3.75).

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