The boos from a disgruntled home crowd started early last night, raining down on pitcher Daniel Cabrera, who for a second straight start could not consistently keep the ball in the ballpark. One fan behind the plate took it further, wearing a brown paper bag over his head, the ultimate sign of dissatisfaction with the home team.
Fans perked up significantly at Camden Yards, only to be let down again by an Orioles team that just can't find a way to win. A stirring, home run-robbing catch by Corey Patterson in the sixth inning and a long fly by Melvin Mora that was turned into a two-run home run by Chris Young only delayed the inevitable, which comes when you can't get enough situational hitting or quality relief pitching.
An 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks before an announced 26,964 last night at Camden Yards was the Orioles' seventh straight defeat, their longest losing streak since they dropped nine straight in September 2005.
The Orioles will have to beat reigning Cy Young winner BrandonWebb this afternoon to avoid a three-game sweep and a 1-8 homestand that has intensified the talk that manager Sam Perlozzo's job is in danger. Orioles officials aren't commenting publicly about it.
Cabrera (5-8) dug the Orioles an early 5-0 hole, giving up a two-run homer to Scott Hairstonand a bases-empty homer to Young in the second inning, and a two-run shot to Chad Tracy in the third. It was the second straight outing in which he has given up three home runs, and he has surrendered 14 this season, three more than he did last season.
"At the time, I'm trying to do the best I can," Cabrera said. "But we're not machines. When you miss, they hit it."
Said Perlozzo: "He got behind hitters those two innings. When he needed to make a good pitch, when you're behind, he elevated it and they took advantage of it."
But Cabrera stabilized himself, started getting ahead of hitters and went eight innings, allowing nothing else.
"After the second and third, he was outstanding," Perlozzo said.
Cabrera retired the last nine hitters he faced, a stretch that started with Patterson?s acrobatic catch of Hairston?s would-be, two-run homer.
The Orioles got a fortuitous bounce in the sixth as Young, the Diamondbacks' rookie center fielder, went after Mora?s long drive into the right-center-field gap but watched the ball hit off his glove and then bounce over the wall for a two-run homer to make it 5-3.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, and Brandon Lyon got ahead of Mora 0-2 before the Orioles third baseman lofted a ball to deep left edge of thewarning tracking, easily scoring Kevin Millar to bring the Orioles within 5-4. Lyon got Nick Markakis to foul out to end the inning.
In the eighth, the Orioles had men on first and second with one out before Patterson grounded into a fielder's choice and Millar bounced out to second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Any shot for a comeback ended in the top of the ninth inning when Jim Hoey, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day in an attempt to patch up the bullpen, gave up three runs on one hit, two walks and a hit batter in two-thirds of an inning.
Cabrera made last night's start on three days' rest after Perlozzo decided to flip-flop the righthander with Brian Burres in the rotation. The move was made because the club wanted to give Burres an extra day's rest because he has been dealing with shoulder soreness.
Randy Johnson was scheduled to start for the Diamondbacks. However, he was put on the 15-day disabled list because of tightness in his gluteusmuscle.
To make the start, the Diamondbacks turned to right-hander Edgar Gonzalez (3-2), who allowed two hits and one run in five innings. He entered the game with a 4.73 ERA in six starts in 2007 and was 7-16 with a 6.22 ERA in 42 career games.
Several Orioles sarcastically sighed when learning that Johnson, who is 10-7with a 4.09 ERA in 30 career games against the club, was scratched from the start. But does it matter?
This is the same Orioles team that has been contained over the last week by Rodrigo Lopez, Jason Hirsh, Micah Bowie, Matt Chico, Jason Simontacchi and Micah Owings. This is the same Orioles teamthat had totaled just 17 runs during its six-game losing streak. In 17 of their past 18 losses, the Orioles have scored four runs or fewer.
The Orioles began play last night tied for last in the American League in home runs with 49. Their 290 runs were tied for second fewest in the AL ahead of only the Chicago White Sox. Though yesterday's roster moves centered on repairing a beleaguered bullpen, Perlozzo before the game put his lineup on notice that it could be shaken up soon as well.
"I don't think you can go through an entire season with three or four guys hitting .200 and playing everyday and [who] you expect to hit," Perlozzo said. "Somehow we have to figure out [how] to get them going in some fashion, and I don?t know what thatwould be yet."