O's trip again takes bad turn

Roberts: `It seems that we find a way to lose every night'

Tigers 5 Orioles 4

May 02, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

DETROIT -- It already had been a brutal road trip for the Orioles when manager Sam Perlozzo and trainer Richie Bancells trudged out to the mound with two outs in the fourth inning last night to check on starting pitcher Adam Loewen.

Wanting desperately to protect a two-run lead while providing some much-needed rest for a tired bullpen, Loewen opted to stay in the game despite an aching left forearm. But after the mound visit, he bore no resemblance to the pitcher who had kept the Detroit Tigers off the scoreboard to that point.

His condition remained the Orioles' chief concern even after pinch hitter Sean Casey broke an eighth-inning tie with a one-out RBI single off Danys Baez and the Orioles' rally came up short in a 5-4 loss before 23,126 at Comerica Park.

"It seems that we find a way to lose every night," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said.

There was no carryover from a contentious Monday when both benches cleared and tempers were high, but there was another loss for the Orioles, their eighth in the past nine games.

Tigers closer Todd Jones got Aubrey Huff on an infield popup with the tying run at third to end the game, the latest missed opportunity for a club that was 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. The Orioles are 12-15 overall and 1-4 on this road trip, with their one victory over the Cleveland Indians still under protest.

Now, they are crossing their fingers that the toll on this trip doesn't include Loewen, who declined to speak to reporters after the game.

Perlozzo said Loewen's forearm has been bothering him for the past three starts and he has been able to pitch through it, though his breaking ball has suffered. He was optimistic that the young left-hander won't miss extended time. The Orioles simply cannot afford it with Kris Benson out for the season, Jaret Wright lost for the foreseeable future and a bullpen growing more ragged by the day.

"[Bancells] seems to think it's not an issue where we're talking about injuring somebody's arm or anything like that," said Perlozzo, who called the injury manageable. "We can't seem to get it to go right.

"It's not a serious spot or anything. It's just an annoyance. ... He said he was fine. I thought he was a little different in the fifth, and I didn't want to take any chances."

Loewen was in decent form when Perlozzo and Bancells came to the mound with two outs in the fourth after Loewen winced following a foul ball by Neifi Perez. He did get Perez on a groundout to end the inning and the Orioles lead stayed at 2-0.

In the fifth, Bancells stood on the top step of the dugout and watched Loewen closely. Loewen showed no obvious signs of discomfort, though his pitches weren't nearly as sharp as they were in the early innings.

He surrendered an RBI single to Placido Polanco - one of four hits for the Tigers' second baseman - and then Craig Monroe gave the Tigers the lead with a two-run homer to left field. Loewen got out of the inning, but his evening was over after throwing a season-low 85 pitches

Down 3-2, the Orioles tied the game in the seventh when Miguel Tejada bounced an RBI single up the middle off Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya that scored Melvin Mora. It was the Orioles' only hit with a runner in scoring position.

The Tigers (15-11) answered in the bottom of the eighth, a rally started when Baez issued four straight balls to pinch hitter Carlos Guillen. Brandon Inge bunted Guillen to second and then Perlozzo opted to intentionally walk pinch hitter Curtis Granderson. He was aware that the left-handed Casey was on the bench and was available to pinch hit for Perez.

But he figured since Casey hadn't started since last Saturday because of the flu, was batting just .192 coming in and is one of the slowest base runners in the league, making him susceptible to the double play, he'd be better off walking Granderson. Casey made the Orioles pay, hitting a hard grounder that just hit off the outstretched glove of a diving Mora at third.

"It's a game of inches," Perlozzo said. "If it was two inches away, it would have a been a double play. When we were going good, we were getting those kind of breaks. Now we're not."

Polanco extended the Tigers' lead to 5-3 with an RBI infield single, and that run would prove pivotal. Jones allowed a leadoff single to Roberts and then a one-out double to Nick Markakis, putting runners on second and third with one out in the ninth. Tejada drove in a run on a groundout. Then Jones retired Huff.

It was the same old story for the Orioles, who had gotten nine base runners off Detroit's inefficient starter Chad Durbin in 3 2/3 innings, but managed just two runs. One of them came on Mora's bases-empty homer in the third.

"We're not hanging our heads about it," Roberts said. "We've played good baseball. It seems like when you are playing well and you can't win, that's what is hard."

In the first, Roberts drew a leadoff walk and then stole second base, but Mora fouled off two bunt attempts and then grounded out to third, leaving Roberts at second base. Markakis eventually got him over with a groundout to second, though Roberts was stranded at third as Tejada grounded out to first.

In the second inning, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out on Huff's single and walks to Ramon Hernandez and Kevin Millar. However, Corey Patterson hit a ground ball to third baseman Inge, who threw home to get the forceout on Huff. Roberts then made the inning's final out, grounding to first and leaving him 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and two outs.jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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