Eight isn't enough

O's offense rallies, but deficit proves too large

Blue Jays 9 Orioles 8

July 10, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

TORONTO - Plays that could have been made weren't. A slide that should have happened didn't. And a stirring rally fell just short.

Ultimately, the reason the Orioles lost, 9-8, to the Toronto Blue Jays last night at Rogers Centre and dropped under .500 for the first time in nearly a month is the club unraveled for one inning.

The inescapable dagger was the Blue Jays' season-best, seven-run fourth inning in which they sent 12 batters to the plate against Orioles rookie left-hander Garrett Olson (6-4) despite only one ball being hit sharply.

It was an inning that included a hit batter, a bases-loaded walk and two tough grounders that went from potential inning-enders to infield hits. Worst of all, six runs scored after there were two outs.

"We couldn't get the third out. That's really all I could say about it," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We just couldn't get the third out."

In his 20 previous big league starts, Olson had never given up seven runs in a game - much less in one inning.

Leading 1-0 with two on and one out in the fourth, he - and the Orioles - came apart.

Olson hit Scott Rolen with a pitch to load the bases, then walked Gregg Zaun to tie the score. After a popout, John McDonald hit a slow bouncer to third that Melvin Mora charged, but McDonald beat the throw.

"He's hustling to first base, and he made it," Mora said. "That's why you hustle."

David Eckstein followed with a two-run double down the left-field line. After another walk, Alex Rios hit a hard grounder to the left of Mora that kicked off his glove and went into shallow left field, letting two more runs score.

"I just missed it," Mora said. "I don't know if I think I should've made it, but if they hit it to you, you should make it."

Asked after the game whether the plays should have been made, Trembley said, "I think you saw the same thing I did."

Olson, however, shouldered the blame.

"You make some pitches in that situation and, yeah, you'd like to get out of it," he said. "But I think I also shot myself in the foot earlier in the inning by hitting Rolen in the foot and then walking Zaun to get the first run in."

Another run-scoring single chased Olson, who is 3-0 with a 4.28 ERA at home and 3-4 with a 6.81 ERA on the road.

The Orioles made it a game, however, with their own explosion against Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett (9-8), who retired the first 10 batters he faced but fell apart in the sixth. The Orioles scored six runs, led by Adam Jones' three-run homer and Mora's two-run single.

Down 9-7, the Orioles nearly drew within one again in the seventh, but Rios, who had moved from right to center when Vernon Wells left with a leg cramp, threw out Aubrey Huff on a close play at the plate in which Huff attempted to score standing up.

"I thought he was safe, and [home plate umpire] Jim Wolf knows he was safe, but he got called out because he doesn't slide," Trembley said. "But that's baseball. You pay for a mental mistake there."

It proved costly when Markakis homered in the ninth against Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan, a former Oriole who picked up his 17th save. The loss was the fourth consecutive for the Orioles (44-45), who hadn't been below .500 since June 12.

They have scored five or more runs in eight of their past nine games but are 3-6 during that stretch.

"We battled back. We did a great job," Markakis said. "But we just fell one run short."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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