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RED WINGS RIP KRAMER, DOWN HERD 7-RUN FIRST INNING LEADS TO 8-3 WIN

There was a Yankees scout in the stands, and a Blue Jays scout in the stands, and talent hounds from the Tigers, the Braves and the Brewers.

They weren't all here to see Buffalo Bison starter Randy Kramer. He's just one of a handful of Pittsburgh Pirate properties mentioned in ongoing trade talks.

But it's a good bet at least one scout was paying special attention to Kramer, and what he saw couldn't have been pleasing.

The Rochester Red Wings banished the Herd starter during a seven-run first inning and loped to an 8-3 victory before a paid crowd of 18,429.

Kramer threw 33 pitches and secured his only out on No. 2 hitter Tim Dulin's fly ball to right. Fifteen of Kramer's pitches missed the strike zone, and the Red Wings made him pay for working from behind.

Juan Bell and Jeff McKnight patiently drew walks, while David Segui, Leo Gomez, Marty Brown and Tony Chance stroked singles. Two of those runners scored on a prodigious Sam Horn homer that would have made Fredonia if it hadn't touched heaven first.

"It was a fastball in," Kramer said. "I tried to get it up, but it was low."

"It wasn't down-down," said pitching coach Jackie Brown. "But it wasn't up where he wanted it. It was right where a low-ball hitter likes it."

It's hard to imagine Horn liking one much better. The ball towered over the light standards before bombing the last row of the bleachers.

"I don't know where the pitch was," Horn said. "I just try to hit the ball, and hit it hard."

Horn has been laying all of his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame into baseball after baseball since coming down from the parent Orioles nine days ago. He whacked three homers in a Saturday double-header, two more on Sunday and another on Monday. Thursday's blast was his seventh in 38 Red Wing at-bats.

"The last time I was in a groove like this? Spring training, when I was playing every day," Horn said. "I do pretty good when I play every day."

Kramer (1-1) usually does pretty well when he works every fifth day, but this was a cruel exception coming, as it did, with attention focused his way.

"Anytime you go out and pitch lousy it's disappointing," Kramer said. "You want to pitch well whether anyone's watching or not. It was just a bad day."

However, pitching coach Brown said trade rumors may have left Kramer anxious and distracted.

"Without a doubt," Brown said. "It's only natural for anyone. He knows there are people watching. He had two or three good games, and now he wants a better one. That's part of being a big league pitcher. You've got to handle that stuff."

While scouts often come to appraise one player, they can't help but notice them all. And that's what keeps players such as Dan Boone plugging away.

With Curt Schilling on call to Baltimore, Boone was summoned from the bullpen to spot start. And he, too, was anxious.

Until joining the Senior League this winter, Boone hadn't pitched professionally since he was released from the Brewers' system in 1984. The last and only start of his first 384 pro appearances came with Tucson in 1982.

But the 36-year-old left-hander really only toyed with the knuckleball back then. Oh, he fooled Johnny Bench with it once somewhere along the line, but that one was thrown more out of frustration than by design.

"He had fouled off something like 10 straight pitches and the count was three-and-two, so I just threw it down the middle. It was a good one, too," Boone said.

Perfecting the knuckleball became Boone's avocation when he moved from baseball to construction. He took it to the Senior League where he was spotted by Orioles scout Birdie Tebbetts. So he filed his nails, crossed his fingers and headed to Rochester.

But asking a knuckleballer to come in from the bullpen is asking a lot. The pitch has a mind of its own, and twice this year Boone threw wild pitches with runners on third.

That's why Boone was thankful for the chance to start Thursday. And he made the most of it by allowing three hits and three runs (two earned) over six innings.

Popular thought says Dan Boone's too old to make it back to the the big leagues. But as long as someone's watching, who knows?

The win snapped Rochester's two-game losing streak while the Bisons' slide was extended to three games. Buffalo has lost five of its last seven. . . . Buffalo's Mike York (5-3, 4.28) and Rochester's Eric Bell (7-4, 4.37) are tonight's scheduled starters (7:05, WGR). . . . Saturday's classic and antique car show at Pilot Field has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts among some of the exhibitors. It will be rescheduled for a later date.

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