Orioles seek Mussina's antidote for losing Right-hander is 5-0 this year when he pitches after a defeat


Another Orioles loss. Another Mussina start. Another losing streak ends.

That's the Orioles' working formula for ending skids this season. Mike Mussina is 5-0 in six starts after an Orioles loss and has solidified his role as the stopper of the staff.

On the heels of the Orioles' two-game slide, Mussina (7-2, 2.58 ERA) starts tonight against Detroit's Tim Belcher (2-8, 7.14) at 7:30 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles have lost four straight games at home, which is the longest current streak in the American League. After starting the season 4-15 on the road, Detroit has won three straight away games and is just four games behind the Orioles. Detroit dropped its first 10 games at Camden Yards, but has won five straight there since last Sept. 24.

Following an Orioles loss, Mussina has defeated Kevin Brown of Texas, Seattle's Randy Johnson and Boston's Roger Clemens. He has allowed 33 hits in 35 2/3 innings with a 3.03 ERA in starts after a defeat.

Mussina's counterpart tonight, Belcher, is not in the same class of Johnson or Clemens. In his last start, Belcher gave up five runs in seven innings in a loss to Minnesota. Opponents are batting .319 against Belcher.

The Orioles pounded Belcher for seven runs on April 11. Belcher lasted only 5 1/3 , walking seven.

Mussina, who is winless in his past two starts, has been the most consistent Orioles starter. Mussina has pitched beyond the seventh inning in eight of his past nine starts.

He also has dominated the Tigers. With his victory over them on April 14, Mussina raised his career record against Detroit to 5-0. He is also 3-0 against the American League East this year.

Mussina also will attempt to stop the recent Orioles trend of home runs allowed. During this losing streak, Orioles pitchers have surrendered seven home runs, including three last night.

Mussina has allowed one home run in each of his past three starts.

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