Stuck in rut

O's allow 4 homers, hit into 5 double plays in 11th straight Sunday loss

Brewers 7 Orioles 3

June 23, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

MILWAUKEE -- There is seemingly no rational explanation for the Orioles' Sunday losing streak, which stands at 11 games after a 7-3 defeat yesterday to the Milwaukee Brewers.

However, it was no secret what caused their latest Sunday loss. The Orioles hit into five double plays and the Brewers belted four home runs.

Trying to make a statement by taking a road series against one of the National League's better teams, the Orioles watched the Brewers turn the series finale into a glorified round of infield and batting practice before an announced 43,517 at Miller Park.

The five double plays the Brewers turned tied a franchise record. The four home runs they hit, two of them by slugger Prince Fielder, continued a trend over the weekend that Orioles manager Dave Trembley hoped to avoid. In the three-game series, the Brewers hit seven homers, accounting for 12 of their 15 runs.

"It's probably obvious, but I thought we had a chance early in the game to knock [Manny] Parra out of the game and we didn't do it," said Trembley, whose team is off today before beginning a three-game series tomorrow night against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. "We had his pitch count way up and had a chance to put a lot more runs on and it didn't happen. And they got their runs with one swing of the bat multiple times. I thought that was really the difference in the game."

In the three-game series, the Orioles stranded 25 base runners. In the two losses after taking Game 1, they went 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position, including a 1-for-12 yesterday in a game in which they drew a season-high 10 walks.

The Orioles (38-36) scored twice in the first inning against a control-challenged Parra and appeared to be on the verge of knocking him out of the game in the second. The Brewers left-hander loaded the bases with one out in the inning and his pitch count was more than 50. However, he got Melvin Mora, the Orioles' best hitter with runners in scoring position, to hit into an inning-ending double play.

That was the start of a brutal day for Mora, who went 0-for-5 and stranded eight base runners. He struck out with two men on and nobody out and the Orioles trailing by two runs in the seventh inning. Then in the ninth, Mora hit into a game-ending double play with two men on.

"I [messed] up today, that's it," said Mora, who entered the game hitting .361 with runners in scoring position. "They throw me balls right there that I should have crushed and I missed them. I feel bad because it was bases loaded and the guy was in trouble. That was the inning. You cannot miss that opportunity. I'm not perfect. I know I'm going to have bad days. But this was one of the days that you need to step up, especially to win the series. It was a bad day."

That was also true for rookie left-hander Garrett Olson and two Orioles relievers. Olson allowed a two-run, game-tying homer to Corey Hart in the second inning. He then retired nine straight before surrendering a game-tying homer to Bill Hall in the fifth. After hitting Gabe Kapler and walking Rickie Weeks, Olson gave up a go-ahead single to J.J. Hardy and the Brewers rolled from there.

"This team has done very well hitting the long ball this season," said Olson, who allowed four earned runs in five innings. "They've been pretty hot lately. I tried to be aggressive with them and unfortunately they got ahold of a couple."

In his Orioles debut, Ryan Bukvich allowed a solo shot to Fielder in the sixth and Jamie Walker allowed a two-run blast to Fielder in the seventh. It was much too much for the Orioles to overcome.

"That's what that club is built to do over there," Orioles outfielder Jay Payton said. "They are built for the home run a little bit."

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