The Bowie Baysox's Jose Mercedes is regarded as one of the finest pitching prospects in the Orioles' organization, but lately he just can't seem to last through prosperous times.
For the fourth straight start last night, Mercedes was given a three-run lead and for the fourth straight start he couldn't hold it.
The Canton-Akron Indians came from behind with six runs in the middle innings and handed Mercedes and the Baysox an 8-3 loss before 5,380 fans at Memorial Stadium.
It was a costly Double-A Eastern League defeat for Bowie (34-28), which fell yet another game behind the rampaging Harrisburg Senators, owners of the best record in pro baseball at 48-16 after winning again last night.
The second-place Baysox dropped 13 games behind Harrisburg and now stand only 1 1/2 games in front of third-place Canton-Akron (34-31).
Mercedes survived a touch of wildness in the first inning when he loaded the bases on a hit batter and two walks, but did not yield a run.
That half-inning ended with Indian manager Brian Graham being tossed by plate umpire Mike Whitty as Graham argued over a shot hit by Luis Lopez that was ruled foul.
The Baysox built a 3-0 lead through four innings with Brad Tyler and Tim Holland hitting key triples and Kyle Washington setting up the other run with a leadoff double.
But everything went wrong for Mercedes in the fifth inning after two were out.
With a man on second, the league's leading hitter, Manny Ramirez hit a shot through the middle that Mercedes deflected toward second baseman Jose Millares.
Millares tried to catch the ball barehanded and make the third out at first but never picked it up. The runner, Rouglas Odor, scored and Ramirez raced to second after the ball squirted into short center field.
Mercedes lost his poise under that adversity, issuing a run-scoring double to Herbert Perry and a first-pitch home run to Lopez. Just like that, the Indians had a 4-3 lead.
The troubles deepened in the next inning when Mercedes allowed a single and a double. With runners on second and third, Millares made a spectacular stop of Omar Ramirez's ground shot, then made a low throw to first that Brent Miller couldn't handle, loading the bases.
A passed ball by Cesar Devarez allowed a run to score and Flores looped a single to center to make it 6-3, and a win for Mike Dyar.