Mussina attracts tough assignments


DETROIT -- He was matched with the opposition's best starter again, weathered that problem and made only one mistake pitch the entire game.

But another splendid effort by Baltimore Orioles rookie Mike Mussina went unrewarded by victory yesterday.

All Mussina received was his second no-decision during a half-season in which, he said, "I've gotten their No. 1 or 2 pitcher four or five times in 11 starts."

This time, it was the Detroit Tigers' Bill Gullickson, who was denied in a bid to become the major leagues' first 20-game winner.

"I'll win one of these games," said Mussina, whose ERA dropped to 3.10 after he allowed one earned run in eight innings.

"It's probably not a bad thing that I go out there against top pitchers. It makes me work that much harder. I know I've got to keep the other team down, keep us as close as I can. I'm learning a lot, and I'll win more games with some more run support."

Manager John Oates conceded that the Orioles "haven't scored much for him, and it was the same way in this game."

Mussina is averaging more than seven innings per start while going against starters with a combined 113-76 record.

Confidence level rising

Mike Devereaux is going to the Florida Instructional League to improve his bunting because, he said, "I feel I need it to improve my confidence.

"Sometimes when I put a bunt down, I think that that could have been the perfect pitch to hit. I have to get over that."

Devereaux had no problems with an eighth-inning sacrifice bunt yesterday, laying down a beauty that moved the tying run into scoring position.

His other accent in Florida will be on stealing bases.

"I know I have the speed, but my technique needs upgrading," he said. "I've been caught a lot of times [nine outs in 25 attempts]. I've had a base-running slump most of the season."

Devereaux said it doesn't matter whether he leads off again next year or bats lower in the lineup.

"It's still the same problem," he said.


The Orioles set a road attendance record yesterday. They have drawn 2,061,731 away from Memorial Stadium, 20,000 more than the previous high in 1989. . . . After 13 consecutive errorless games, the Orioles have committed 3 errors in the past 2 games. Bill Ripken had 1 yesterday, his second in 65 games. . . . The Tigers equaled last year's victory total with their 79th. . . . The game was the 43rd decided by 1 run since Oates became Orioles manager. The team is 18-33 overall this season in that category and has played the most 1-run games in the AL. . . . Detroit will lead the league in homers for the second year in a row and fifth time in 8 seasons.

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