Burres takes wrong turn in 1st start back with O's

August 27, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

The opportunities keep coming this season for Orioles pitchers. Radhames Liz is trying to make good on another chance. Garrett Olson made 21 starts, and few of them were quality. Chris Waters was plucked out of near anonymity and Dennis Sarfate out of the bullpen.

The Orioles aren't asking for much, and they're getting far less than that. Brian Burres became the latest Oriole to be granted another shot last night and do little with it. Five pitches into Burres' outing, the Orioles were already facing a two-run deficit, and things never really got much better in a listless 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox before an announced 15,398 at Camden Yards.

"I didn't really give my team a chance," said Burres, who allowed six runs (five earned) in five innings.

With the defeat, the Orioles' losing streak reached five games with no end - or a reliable complement to No. 1 starter Jeremy Guthrie - in sight. The Orioles (62-70) are 1-7 on this homestand and a season-high eight games under .500.

"You need better pitching is what you need," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team has gotten only two quality starts in eight games on this homestand. "Starting pitching, that's the name of the game. ... If you don't have starting pitching, you're behind the eight ball from the get-go. And that was the game tonight."

That and another strong performance by Mount St. Joseph graduate and White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. The Anne Arundel County native held the Orioles to two runs and four hits over eight strong innings to win his fourth straight decision and improve to 14-6. He retired the first nine Orioles he faced and was never in trouble, allowing only an RBI double to Nick Markakis in the fourth inning and an RBI single to Luke Scott in the seventh.

Floyd was much better than he needed to be with the way the White Sox jumped on Burres, who allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base. Orlando Cabrera tied a career high with four hits, and Carlos Quentin had three and got his 100th RBI.

"There are times where you've got to tip your hat to the starting pitcher from the other team, who did a tremendous job," Scott said of Floyd. "That's what the game's all about. If you get good starting pitching, more times than not, you're going to win the ballgame."

The Orioles would settle for their starting pitcher keeping them in the ballgame. In his first Orioles start since July 25, Burres gave up runs in every inning except his last. He allowed 10 hits, six of them for extra bases, including a first-inning, two-run homer to Nick Swisher on his fifth pitch. Burres also walked a batter, threw a wild pitch and committed an error that led to a White Sox run in the second inning.

It was his third straight start in which he took the loss, and his ERA has risen in each of them to his current 5.79.

"I was behind most hitters. When I did throw strikes, they weren't very quality," Burres said. "I was a little bit off. My pitches were getting away from me a lot, and I never really got into a good groove."

When the Orioles sent Burres down to Triple-A Norfolk after he had been touched by the Los Angeles Angels for five earned runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings in his previous start, the plan was for him to be used as a reliever.

Burres made three scoreless relief appearances for the Tides before moving into their rotation to make one start. Against Charlotte, he allowed one earned run in six innings, which was enough to earn a promotion. That, in itself, said enough about the Orioles' starting pitching woes.

Trembley said before the game that he will mix and match his rotation for the rest of the season, so it isn't known at this point when or whether Burres will get another start. But it wouldn't be a surprise considering how few options Trembley has.

"It's like the pressure is on you and you've got to score a lot of runs to win a ballgame," Scott said. "It's just tough, but our pitchers are doing their best. They're out there trying hard. They're not trying to do bad."

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