O's can't hold on

Lost leads, failed ninth-inning rally spell loss

Blue Jays 10 Orioles 8

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

The story line is starting to get much too old for Orioles manager Dave Trembley - the starter can't get deep enough into the game, the middle relief corps implodes and a fine offensive effort goes to waste.

Another frustrating evening began with Garrett Olson's failure to get out of the fifth inning, continued with Fernando Cabrera and Alberto Castillo's inability to get key outs in the sixth and ended with catcher Ramon Hernandez fuming over a called strike in the last at-bat of the game.

Adam Lind's three-run homer off Castillo in the sixth inning put the Toronto Blue Jays ahead for good in a 10-8 victory over the Orioles last night before an announced 15,184 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (48-51) scored a run in the ninth off former closer B.J. Ryan and had the bases loaded with two outs and Hernandez at the plate. The Orioles catcher took consecutive balls and thought he had worked Ryan to a 3-0 count. However, plate umpire Jim Joyce called Ryan's third offering a strike and Hernandez flied out on the next pitch, slamming his bat and yelling at Joyce as Toronto center fielder Alex Rios settled under the ball.

"Everybody misses [calls], but in a situation like that, you can't miss that bad," said Hernandez, who homered earlier in the game. "You have to be professional. You have to call nine innings of a baseball game. You just can't start giving up strikes. In a situation like that when the game is on the line, you just can't miss like that. It's a big difference 3-0 than 2-1. When you get a bad call like that, it's in your mind that you're not going to walk."

The Orioles led 4-0 after three innings and 7-6 after five, but they watched both leads get erased. Olson did the honors the first time, getting charged with five runs in the fifth inning, three of them coming on John McDonald's bases-loaded-clearing two-out double.

Realizing that Olson again didn't have it, Orioles manager Dave Trembley acknowledged that he would have liked to have gone to the bullpen before McDonald's at-bat, but several of his relievers - Chad Bradford and Randor Bierd in particular - were unavailable after having been used a lot in recent days.

In the sixth, Castillo came on after Cabrera put two runners on and hung a slider to Lind, who hit it onto the flag court. Lind had four of Toronto's 14 hits and was a triple shy of the cycle.

"I'm in a push-pull situation," said Trembley, who hasn't gotten a starter beyond the sixth inning in eight straight games. "Do you go with the starters longer and let ... what occurred tonight [happen], or do you pull guys early and your bullpen by Aug. 15 will be dragging?"

Olson and the bullpen's struggles overshadowed the performance of third baseman Melvin Mora, who continued his torrid post-All-Star-break pace, going 4-for-5 with a home run, a double and five RBIs, including a run-scoring single off Ryan in the ninth.

"I see the ball better," said Mora, who is 12-for-24 with four homers and 14 RBIs in his past six games. "I feel good at home plate right now."

Nick Markakis hit a two-run shot in the first inning off Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum and is 8-for-17 with five homers and six RBIs against the right-hander, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his first start since June 18. Mora's two-run homer off Marcum in the fifth tied the score at 6 and three batters later, Hernandez's opposite-field shot gave the Orioles a 7-6 lead.

The rally took Olson off the hook. He allowed six earned runs, nine hits and three walks. He also hit a batter. "He didn't have command of any of his pitches," Hernandez said.

Olson needed 108 pitches to get 14 outs, and his pitch count wasn't the only thing that skyrocketed. Olson's ERA now stands at 6.11 and has increased in three straight starts.

"I think he's got a whole lot more opportunity to be successful than what he's showing right now," Trembley said.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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