Less than 24 hours earlier, the Orioles' offense had broken out with one of its best efforts of the season. But that performance figured to be difficult to duplicate last night, not just because nemesis Andy Pettitte was on the mound, but because he was opposed by Jeremy Guthrie.
The Orioles continued to give Guthrie little offensive support, getting all their runs off Pettitte on one swing by Melvin Mora, whose two-run shot in the third inning was not enough to prevent a 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees, who avoided a three-game sweep before an announced crowd of 24,791 at Camden Yards.
In seven quality innings, Guthrie allowed three earned runs on six hits, including Jason Giambi's game-tying home run onto Eutaw Street in the fourth inning.
Guthrie is 2-6 and has dropped three straight decisions despite posting a 2.21 ERA in those outings.
The Orioles have scored a total of eight runs in his six losses this season and two runs or fewer in five of his 12 starts.
"It seems like every game Guthrie pitches is a well-pitched game on the other side, as well," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team is off today before starting a four-game series at home against the Boston Red Sox.
"You've got to do an awful lot of things right to come in and win three in a row. We just didn't do enough things right to do it. We had some opportunities early and it just didn't happen. That's part of the game. You've got to tip your cap to Pettitte. He's pitched awfully well against us, it seems like forever."
After Pettitte turned in 6 2/3 innings, future starter Joba Chamberlain got four outs, three on strikeouts. He got Kevin Millar to swing through a 97-mph fastball with two men on in the seventh inning.
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, working around an error by Alex Rodriguez to secure his 13th save.
Pettitte didn't dominate the Orioles (26-26), allowing eight hits and one walk. But he located his pitches when he needed to, making a one-run lead, earned on Derek Jeter's fifth-inning sacrifice fly, stand until New York (26-27) added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Pettitte improved to 24-6 against the Orioles in his career, and to 12-2 with a 3.25 ERA against them in his past 15 starts. He recorded three strikeouts, two of them against Millar, who stranded six runners a day after pounding two home runs.
But Pettitte's biggest throw might have been to second base, not home plate. With Brian Roberts on second after his third hit and one out in the fifth inning, Pettitte spun and threw behind Roberts, who had broken for third. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano tagged him after a short rundown.
"He gets extremely aggressive out there," Pettitte said. "I let him bounce a little bit and that was a big play for sure."
After retiring Roberts, Pettitte walked Mora and then allowed a double to Nick Markakis, the first extra-base hit Pettitte has surrendered to a left-handed hitter since Markakis took him deep on Sept. 29 of last year. However, Pettitte (5-5) got Millar to fly out to end the inning.
"We don't want to stop Brian Roberts from being aggressive," Mora said. "We want him to be aggressive because when he gets on base, that's when pitchers make a mistake to us. He has to continue to do what he does."
So does Guthrie, but some run support would certainly help.
"You enjoy the opportunity to be in a scuffle, to be in a fight," Guthrie said. "Personally, I'm able to be in one of those it seems like every five days, where every pitch matters, where every at-bat is big. You enjoy that and that's what makes this game fun. Unfortunately, for me, it's not going the right way."