Stuck in first gear, O's can't catch Rockies

Orioles' frustration growing louder as bats stay quiet

Rockies 6 Orioles 1

June 11, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Miguel Tejada hit a ball so hard yesterday, he didn't have time to drop his bat before Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins made a backhanded catch of his line drive to end the sixth inning. That's when Tejada found the time, flipping it angrily to the ground after taking a few steps toward first base.

The frustration had spread to the Orioles shortstop. It already engulfed manager Sam Perlozzo before the game as he met with reporters in the dugout. And it threatens to wash away an entire team that's inching closer to last place.

Held to two runs in 10 innings Saturday night, the Orioles couldn't match that total yesterday against a pitcher with no victories in almost two months. They led for the 18th straight game, but again fell silent while absorbing a 6-1 loss to the Rockies before an announced crowd of 34,784 at Camden Yards.

"We're better than that offensively. We're just not showing it right now," Perlozzo said.

"We've been patient and we've been impatient. And it seems like when we're patient, we work the starter pretty well. And the nights we decide to go out there and just let it fly, we end up getting ourselves in a hole and not really making a guy work enough."

The Rockies didn't go easy on Orioles starter Erik Bedard (4-4), who threw 111 pitches in five innings and left after giving up two runs in the fifth that broke a 1-1 tie.

Making a rare start, Freddie Bynum misjudged a fly ball in center field that fell for a single, and catcher Paul Bako was charged with a passed ball on a strikeout that allowed the runners to move up before Ryan Spilborghs' two-run single.

"We make a mistake and the other team always capitalizes," Bynum said.

Spilborghs, recalled last month from Triple-A Colorado Springs, homered twice and drove in all six runs. He led off the fourth with a bases-empty shot to erase the Orioles' 1-0 lead and added a three-run homer off reliever John Parrish in the seventh.

"You never think that's going to happen, but when it does, it's special," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He had three big swings and battled Bedard. Sometimes when pitchers make good pitches, you don't hit them, but you have to give Spilborghs credit."

Searching for the right combination to unlock the offense, Perlozzo again benched center fielder Corey Patterson and designated hitter Jay Gibbons. Melvin Mora asked out of the lineup to clear his head because he has been struggling at the plate.

"The people we've got in there aren't getting it done," Perlozzo said before the game. "We've got to try something."

Rockies starter Jason Hirsh (3-6) had lost five straight decisions, but he shut out the Orioles after the second inning, retiring 20 of the last 21 batters for his first career complete game. They collected four of their five hits by the third inning.

Once again, someone pressed the mute button on the offense.

"A couple of these guys have got to get it going or we're not going to be successful," Perlozzo said before the game. "You can't sit back and wait and wait and wait. It's time we get a couple of people going. We're wearing other people out and overusing them. We've all got to come together as a team, and everyone's got to chip in or we're going to have some trouble.

"We're missing Ramon [Hernandez, who's on the disabled list], and we need some guys who can pick up the pace, or at least play as good as they're supposed to play to help us get going. Until that happens, we're going to struggle a little bit."

Patterson is in a 3-for-31 slump and has started once since Tuesday. Gibbons is 7-for-48 in his past 15 games.

Without mentioning specific players, Perlozzo said: "I don't think you can keep running somebody out there who's not getting the job done. I think we've given everyone a pretty long chance. It's been spring training and all the way up to now. We need those guys. We can't just sit them on the bench. But somehow they're going to have to get out here and get some early hitting in and work hard until they get it done. We'll match it up a little bit. We'll see. The game will dictate what we do."

Bedard said he didn't change his approach with runs being scarce again. He struck out eight but turned in his shortest outing since April 23.

"I just do what I can do. That's it," he said.

"I tried to throw strikes and they hit some good pitches."

Bako had two of the Orioles' five hits, including a fifth-inning single that would be their last of the day. Nobody else reached base, and the game ended with Tejada flying to the edge of the warning track in left-center field.

This time, Tejada's hands didn't hold a bat. He placed them on his hips as he walked to the dugout, his eyes fixed on the ground.

"We keep talking about it. Sooner or later, we're going to start getting some hits," Perlozzo said.

"I just wish it was sooner rather than later."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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