For now, Oates sticking with Oquist


SEATTLE -- Mark McLemore booted the grounder with two outs in the eighth inning that led to the winning run in the Seattle Mariners' 7-5 victory over the Orioles late Monday night at the Kingdome.

The Orioles squandered several early scoring opportunities against wild Seattle right-hander George Glinatsis, 25, who made his major-league debut just weeks after being promoted from Single-A to Double-A.

Jack Voigt bobbled a ball in right field. Cal Ripken was thrown out by Ken Griffey at third base tagging on a ball in the second inning, a call disputed by the Orioles. Brady Anderson grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and the Orioles got only run one out of an inning in which they loaded the bases with nobody out against Glinatsis.

All those plays were contributing factors to one loss.

But the most significant long-term cause for concern coming out of Monday night's game involved the starting pitcher.

Once again, No. 5 starter Mike Oquist failed to produce back-to-back acceptable performances.

In keeping with his good start/bad start pattern, Oquist had a bad one. He allowed seven hits, three earned runs and three walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Oquist's good starts haven't been as good as his bad starts have been bad, which has the Orioles considering going in another direction for their fifth starter.

In eight starts, he is 1-2 with an 8.03 ERA, and he pitched on 12 days' rest Monday night.

"He's the fifth starter," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said, defending his pitcher. "The guy hadn't pitched in how many days? We'll see how things go."

Translation: If the Orioles don't find anyone better before his turn comes up again Saturday in Oakland, they will march Oquist out there again. Left-hander Rick Krivda is the most likely Triple-A possibility to replace Oquist in the rotation.

"Six hits in three innings," Oates said of his performance. "We'll have to do better than that."

Informed Oquist has yet to pitch well in back-to-back starts, Oates had a quick reply.

"How many pitchers in baseball do get the job done back-to-back anymore?" Oates said. "If you can find somebody who can, you better get ahold of him and keep him."

Despite the strike threat, Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he remains in aggressive pursuit of pitching help, but the demand for pitching is so much greater than the supply at the moment it makes it difficult to acquire anyone.

"You don't stop talking with clubs just because of what might happen," Hemond said of the strike possibility.

At the same time, you don't have to like what you hear in return.

For example, the Milwaukee Brewers asked for right-hander Armando Benitez and outfielder Alex Ochoa for Bill Wegman, an average pitcher with a below-average fastball.

The Orioles could live to regret such a trade if they parted with one of the top prospects, let alone both.

Ideally, the Orioles would like to acquire someone they could drop into the middle of their rotation, making Sid Fernandez a No. 4 starter and Jamie Moyer No. 5.

Instead, they are forced to use Oquist as their fifth starter.

Oquist needed 4 2/3 innings of help from five relievers.

Nobody threw a pitch to Griffey (3-for-4, two runs, two RBIs) good enough to get him out until losing pitcher Mark Eichhorn (5-3) did in the eighth with two outs. After McLemore booted the grounder and was charged with his ninth error, Eichhorn walked Jay Buhner and allowed a two-run double to Edgar Martinez that broke a 5-5 tie.

The two unearned runs were only the 16th and 17th of the season allowed by the Orioles.

Earlier, the Mariners torched the Orioles' slumping bullpen for a pair of runs to tie the score 5-5 in the sixth. Left-hander Jim Poole allowed run-scoring doubles to Eric Anthony and Griffey, the only batters he faced.

Meanwhile, the Mariners' bullpen, which blew a pair of two-run, ninth-inning leads to the Yankees during a four-game weekend sweep, shut out the Orioles over the final 4 1/3 innings in relief of Glinatsis, the 15th rookie to appear in a game for the Mariners this season.

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