Painful setback

Loewen reinjures elbow as O's fail in comeback bid

Rangers 11 Orioles 10

July 07, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Practically urged out of the dugout by the moans and audible stirrings of a Sunday afternoon crowd, Orioles manager Dave Trembley made the slow walk to the mound in the fourth inning with his eyes fixed on the ground. He took the ball from Radhames Liz, patted his young starter twice on the shoulder without saying a word and contemplated another game in which his bullpen would be active much sooner than desired.

He had no idea that a bigger issue loomed.

Trembley's next trip to the mound the following inning included head athletic trainer Richie Bancells. Liz's replacement, Adam Loewen, exited with pain in his surgically repaired left elbow, providing an added jolt to an 11-10 loss to the Texas Rangers before an announced 22,276 at Camden Yards.

Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Kevin Millar and Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles (44-43), the last two coming in the ninth inning, but the final homestand before the All-Star break couldn't have ended much worse for a team that lost its 13th consecutive Sunday game and must travel to Toronto and Boston with a tattered bullpen.

One day after designating Ryan Bukvich for assignment in the latest reshuffling, they might have lost Loewen for an extended period. He'll undergo a CT scan today in Baltimore.

Loewen, making his third relief appearance since being activated from the disabled list last Monday, hopped into the air and grimaced after throwing a pitch to Rangers shortstop Ramon Vazquez. Trembley and Bancells were already perched on the top step of the dugout, watching intently for signs that Loewen was hurt.

"He felt a sharp pain in his elbow, not like he felt in Seattle," Trembley said, referring to the former first-round draft pick's last start before going on the DL April 25. "He's not going to pitch for a while."

Catcher Ramon Hernandez said he checked on Loewen because "he had that pained face," but the left-hander gave assurances that he was fine. He came out after his next throw.

"You see it happen here every year, and I don't know why," Hernandez said. "Starters, relievers, they always start getting hurt. Every year since I've been here, it's been like that."

Loewen, who retired the first two batters he faced and walked two straight before leaving, declined to meet with reporters. He made it through nine rehabilitation games - three at Single-A Frederick and six at Double-A Bowie - without incident, but he couldn't get past a 2-2 count on Vazquez.

"The pitch before, I saw him shake his hand," Trembley said. "I jumped up, Richie jumped up. He really didn't know what it was. On the second pitch, he said he felt a much sharper type of pain."

Liz (3-1) threw 103 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. He couldn't hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2 and was charged with six runs (four earned) and seven hits, with five walks and two wild pitches. He also committed a throwing error.

"Just a bad day," he said. "I was opening a little bit [on his delivery]. That's been my problem."

Roberts homered in the third inning to break a tie at 2. Markakis added a three-run shot in the eighth after the Rangers scored five times in the top half to lead 11-5. Millar and then Mora, sent up as a pinch hitter, each tacked on a run in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to smooth out a sloppy game.

"There's a little bit of everything today," Trembley said. "A lot of things stand out."

None more than what happened to Loewen.

"He's a tremendous person. He worked very hard," Trembley said. I made a phone call to him the day before he got called back up here because I wanted to make sure that he was OK physically and mentally. He passed every test. He told me he never felt anything the whole time he was rehabbing. Now we have a definite setback."

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