OAKLAND, Calif. -- Another night, another coast, another debacle.
The Orioles showed last night that they can lose to the struggling Oakland Athletics just as easily as to the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays or the swaggering New York Yankees. This time, they left out the suspense.
Handicapped by a four-run first inning, the Orioles spent the rest of the night unsuccessfully trying to rally against five A's pitchers. They drew as close as two runs before falling, 9-5, before 11,035 at Oakland Coliseum. Once again, starting pitching deserted them. This time Scott Kamieniecki was the no-show.
The result left the Orioles on a nine-game losing streak, their longest since beginning 1988 0-21. They are now 10-25 since a 10-2 start and appear no closer to solving the sick riddle this season has become.
Cal Ripken had three hits, Rafael Palmeiro three RBIs, but Kamieniecki only gave the Orioles three innings. His stumble overwhelmed the offensive finds.
The Orioles fell to 2-23 when surrendering four runs or more. According to that trend, this game was over after the A's seventh hitter.
Entering on a three-game losing skid, the A's used three hits, a leadoff walk and a hit batter to construct their telling four-run first. For the third time in seven starts Kamieniecki failed to pitch past four innings.
Charged with seven runs, Kamieniecki (2-2) made competent relief performances by Sidney Ponson, Alan Mills and Jesse Orosco irrelevant. The Orioles surrendered at least nine hits for the eighth time during their losing streak. They have been outscored 57-30 during the free fall.
A statistic that has little remaining value, the Orioles remain 14 games behind first-place New York, which lost last night in Boston to the Red Sox.
For the Orioles to break their slide, either Doug Drabek or Doug Johns must outpitch ex-Oriole Jimmy Haynes or Kenny Rogers this weekend. The club must look to Monday in Seattle before receiving a favorable matchup.
Kamieniecki was coming off his longest start of the season, a seven-inning, six-hit performance in which he received no decision during a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Whatever momentum he took from the start quickly evaporated against the A's, who picked up where they had left off during a relentless beating of Kamieniecki on April 24.
Pitching on that date with what the club described as a severe groin pull, Kamieniecki got only one out on 28 pitches against seven batters as the A's pounded him for six runs in a 10-1 Orioles loss. Two days later Kamieniecki went on the disabled list.
No such reasons were advanced last night as Kamieniecki faced a bases-loaded jam before getting his first out.
Rickey Henderson worked a leadoff walk and took third base on Kurt Abbott's double to center field. Kamieniecki hit Ben Grieve to load the bases. A pop-out preceded Jason Giambi's groundout that scored Henderson.
However, instead of escaping with only one run allowed, Kamieniecki surrendered a single to Scott Spiezio before third baseman Mike Blowers crushed another double to score Abbott and Spiezio for a 4-0 lead.
Rather than roll over, the Orioles counterattacked against A's starter, knuckleballer Tom Candiotti.
A leadoff single by Harold Baines began an inning that culminated with a two-out wild pitch that allowed B.J. Surhoff to score. Mike Bordick then singled to score Ripken, whose one-out double had put two runners in scoring position.
Down 4-2, Kamieniecki finished his collapse in the third inning, again hurting himself with a walk.
Giambi -- coming off a 5-for-37 road trip -- walked with one out and took second on Spiezio's second single. Blowers then rifled a ground-rule double over the center-field wall, scoring Giambi. No. 8 hitter Jason McDonald flared a double to left, scoring both remaining runners for a 7-2 lead.
The damage didn't end there. McDonald attempted to steal third, drawing a throw from catcher Chris Hoiles. The throw was on target but late. Worse, Hoiles' right wrist struck hitter A. J. Hinch's bat. He left the game and was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays.
Miller pulled Kamieniecki after three innings, leaving him with a 35.14 ERA in 3 1/3 innings vs. the A's this season.
Candiotti had contained the Orioles for seven innings of a 12-4 Oakland win on April 26.
This time he brought less to the mound. Unable to preserve a five-run lead, he allowed leadoff singles to Brady Anderson and Hammonds in the fifth inning before Palmeiro scorched a three-run homer to right field. The blast was Palmeiro's 10th and gave him home runs in three consecutive games.
Orioles tonight Opponent: Oakland Athletics
Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum
Time: 9: 15
TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 50/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Doug Drabek (3-5, 6.65) vs. Athletics' Jimmy Haynes (3-1, 3.77)
Pub Date: 5/23/98