CLEVELAND - Orioles reliever Steve Kline was halfway to the first base line last night before the ball landed. He glanced back, as if to punish himself, never doubting where it was headed. He couldn't stand to look. He couldn't resist.
Ben Broussard, who began the game on the bench, hit a Kline slider into the seats in right field leading off the 10th inning, giving the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 victory at Jacobs Field and adding misery to the left-hander's tortured season.
Kline (2-4) threw three pitches to the only batter he faced. That was enough to determine the outcome.
"I just [stunk], period," he said. "I knew as soon as he hit it. It's just been a [bad] year for me. If I throw a good one, hopefully he rolls over it, but it [stunk] and he hit it 600 feet. The team plays hard and I go out and [stink] on three pitches."
Former Oriole Casey Blake belted a three-run homer off reliever Todd Williams in the eighth to wipe out a 4-1 deficit and rob Erik Bedard of a much-deserved victory. Bedard held the Indians to one run and three hits going into the inning, but consecutive singles by Jose Hernandez and Aaron Boone chased him with no outs.
Blake ran the count full before launching his 15th homer. Bedard stared at the field from his seat in the dugout, his face devoid of expression.
"That's one that got away," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. "No question about it."
Perlozzo used four relievers after removing Bedard in the eighth. Left-handers are hitting .333 with five homers against Kline, but he began last night with only one earned run allowed in his past nine innings.
"They had all lefties coming up, guys who hit righties much better," Perlozzo said. "We can't be matching up constantly. Sooner or later you've got to get both sides out. But I felt good with Steve going out there.
"I'd rather it had been [closer] B.J. Ryan with the lead."
The Orioles (60-61) got one of those in the eighth, breaking a 1-1 tie after left fielder Coco Crisp overran Luis Matos' single and allowed Sammy Sosa to score. Sosa held at third base for an instant before racing home.
A .300 hitter before last night, Matos slapped both hands together and nearly took the skin off first base coach Dave Cash's right palm. He later stole second and third after appearing to injure himself, and scored on a two-out, two-run triple by Melvin Mora.
Presented with another chance to be the hero, Matos struck out against Fernando Cabrera to end the ninth and strand two runners. Cabrera gained his first major league victory.
The Orioles are 1-9 when tied after eight innings. Kline, making his first appearance at Jacobs Field since pitching for the Indians in 1997, tagged on the latest loss with a pitch low and away that Broussard turned into Cleveland's third homer of the night.
"I guess that was the only pitch the guy was looking for," catcher Javy Lopez said. "I thought it was a pretty good pitch. It seemed like he was looking for it all the way."
Said Kline: "He hit it out of the ballpark. That ain't a good pitch."
Coming off a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics that put them within seven games of the wild card, the Orioles failed to move above .500 for the first time since July 28.
"It's bad timing, especially with the lead," Perlozzo said. "But we're going to bounce back. There's nothing else for us to do."
Bedard retired 13 of the first 15 batters before Aaron Boone homered in the fifth inning to tie the game at 1. He struck out five of eight batters during one stretch, beginning in the third.
Orioles starters were 7-1 with a 2.57 ERA in nine games before last night. They allowed more than three earned runs only once, and went six or more innings on six occasions. Bedard was just continuing a trend.
"I think he stayed on the plate a little bit more," Perlozzo said. "He was getting ahead of hitters and then getting an out with one of the next two pitches and not going 3-2. And he had an easy first inning. He's usually had a little more trouble in the first and second, but he had it from the start tonight."
Bedard left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.
Making his first career appearance against the Orioles, Scott Elarton held them to three hits over seven innings. He retired the first nine batters before Brian Roberts led off the fourth with a double and later scored on Miguel Tejada's single. Elarton then retired another nine in a row.
Bedard has one victory in seven starts since coming off the disabled list July 18. He was strong through seven innings last night, still determined into the eighth, empty near the end.
A certain reliever knew how he felt.