O's suffer another Fenway flogging

Red Sox 10 Orioles 3


BOSTON -- As players quietly dressed all around him, Orioles designated hitter Kevin Millar pondered the past three games and succinctly described the mismatch that unfolded at Fenway Park.

"We got our butts kicked," Millar said.

That about summed up Boston's weekend sweep over the Orioles, completed yesterday afternoon when the Red Sox pounded starter Kris Benson for a career-high nine runs in a 10-3 victory before 36,022.

In the series, the Orioles were outscored 25-9. They are now 0-6 against Boston this season, and they have been outscored 45-19 in the process. They have also lost 11 straight to the Red Sox going back to 2005.

"They were able to pitch and they were able to hit better," Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora said. "How are you going to win the game like that?"

For a team that envisioned causing some problems for the division's hierarchy, the Orioles (14-19), losers of five straight, eight out of nine and off to their worst start since 2001, have been decidedly overmatched against the top American League East teams. They are 3-11 against the Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, and Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo sees a team that is lacking in just about every area right now, aside from effort.

"We just have to get better," said Perlozzo, whose team is now a half game out of last place with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' victory over the Oakland Athletics yesterday. "We have to pitch better; we have to swing the bats better. We have to cut down on our mistakes. That's the only way you get out of it. The effort, there are no problems there. We just have to get it done on the field."

Fresh off being outscored 35-12 on an 0-5 road trip, the club's first multi-city winless road trip since going 0-6 on a West Coast swing late in the 2003 season, the Orioles will be off today to lick their wounds and get ready for a nine-game homestand.

"It comes at a great time," shortstop Miguel Tejada said of the open date. "We don't want to play the way we're playing right now, but what happened, happened. There is nothing we can do. We just have to play hard, and the winning streaks are going to come."

The Orioles will enter the three-game series with the surprising Detroit Tigers with a scuffling lineup that was controlled yesterday by lightly regarded left-hander Lenny DiNardo and scored no more than three runs in all five games on the trip.

Since leadoff hitter Brian Roberts went on the disabled list with a strained groin, the Orioles are 1-8, and Roberts' replacements in the leadoff role are 4-for-35 with one run.

The Orioles also are 1-9 in games started by opposing left-handers - their one win came on Opening Day against Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir.

Then there's the starting rotation, which was expected to be the club's strength but has come up vastly short of expectations thus far.

Benson (4-3), who already this season had stopped losing streaks at four and three games, became the latest Orioles starter to be victimized by the Red Sox, giving up nine earned runs on eight hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek deposited a grand slam over the Orioles' bullpen in the first inning, and Boston turned a two-run game into a laugher with a five-run fifth, highlighted by RBI doubles from Trot Nixon and Mike Lowell.

"I pretty much got behind in the count too many times [against] a hot team," said Benson, who bemoaned an ineffective changeup that had been one of his best pitches through his first six starts. "I put myself in too many jams."

In the series, the top three starters of the Orioles' rotation - Rodrigo Lopez, Erik Bedard and Benson - gave up 24 hits, 20 runs (18 earned) and nine walks in 12 innings.

"We've got 28 [or] 29 starts left, and a lot of things can happen over the course of a season," Benson said. "It's just a rough stretch. I think we'll be fine."

The Orioles' offense was hardly exempt from blame. Opposing teams were batting .397 against DiNardo before yesterday. In his other three starts this season, DiNardo had given up 22 hits and 13 earned runs over 13 innings, but he held the Orioles to two hits and two runs (one earned) through five innings.

"I think we underachieved against him," Perlozzo said. "He put himself in a position where we could've really taken advantage of him, and we just didn't do it."

The Orioles scored one run in the first, only after DiNardo issued four consecutive two-out walks. But Millar struck out against his former team, leaving the bases loaded. The at-bat loomed large in the bottom half of that inning when Varitek hit his second career grand slam.

"There are no excuses," Millar said. "We have to play better baseball. We have to hit better and really just find a way to get some wins and start shaking hands at the end of the game. We're too good a team to [have a] snowball effect like this."


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