MIAMI - -The final indignity in a series full of them for the Orioles came in the eighth inning Thursday night after Hanley Ramirez had connected for his second grand slam in three days. While the Florida Marlins superstar took a well-deserved curtain call amid chants of "Hanley, Hanley," one fan waved a broom up and down the top of the Orioles' dugout.
A road trip that started with so much promise ended with another lifeless display by the Orioles, who were throttled, 11-3, before an announced 12,822 and couldn't escape Land Shark Stadium soon enough.
The Marlins pounded Orioles starter Rich Hill and then reliever Chris Ray and got another shutdown start by an unheralded starting pitcher in finishing the series sweep and crushing any lingering momentum that the Orioles had built by taking all three games against the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies to start the trip.
"Everybody knows what we're capable of, but just putting it all together is still in the works," said outfielder Nick Markakis, who was one of the Orioles' few bright spots, going 4-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. "That's baseball. Anything can happen on any given day. We played three great games in Philly. We came out today and just couldn't get anything working. We just have to put it behind us and get ready for the next series."
The next series starts tonight against the Washington Nationals at Camden Yards. If nothing else - and the Nationals do have the worst record in all of baseball - the Orioles (32-40) at least won't have to see the Marlins for a while. They are 5-16 against them all time and 1-11 in what formerly was known as Dolphin Stadium.
When the Orioles arrived at the park Tuesday, they were brimming with confidence after getting quality starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense in outplaying the Phillies over three days. None of those elements were consistently present in Miami, as the Orioles looked overwhelmed for all but the ninth inning of Tuesday's series opener when they scored three runs on five straight singles to tie the game.
The three Marlins starters in the series - Andrew Miller, Ricky Nolasco and Sean West, who pitched six shutout frames Thursday - allowed just one earned run (three runs total) and 12 hits in 20 innings. The Orioles were shut out for eight inning by West and reliever Tim Wood before they scored three runs in the ninth on RBI doubles by Markakis and pinch hitter Gregg Zaun.
"I don't think that at all," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley when asked whether his team looked flat after the 12-inning loss Tuesday. "If we would have been flat, we wouldn't have scored in the ninth at all. Period."
The Orioles stranded 10 base runners and were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and were in a 5-0 hole by the end of the third inning.
Hill needed just 10 pitches to strike out the side in the first, but that dominance was nowhere to be seen for the rest of his outing. The left-hander hung an 0-2 changeup that Cody Ross pounded into the left-field seats for a two-run homer in the second. Two batters after an RBI single by Ramirez in the third inning, Hill left a fastball up that Dan Uggla drove over the wall in left field.
"I think it's just attributed to pitch selection that I was going with," said Hill, who hasn't gotten through five innings in four of his past six starts and now has a 6.03 ERA. "I think I was relying on the curveball a lot. A few times I shook off [catcher Matt Wieters], it was just bad pitch choices by myself. It's something to learn from and move on."
The score was already 6-0 when Ray, who was making his second appearance since his recall from Triple-A Norfolk, got himself in a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Emilio Bonifacio hit a two-out RBI single and then Ramirez drove Ray's pitch over the scoreboard in left.
By then, the Orioles had seen enough of Ramirez, who was 6-for-13 with 11 RBIs in the series, and with the rest of the Marlins for that matter.
"In Philadelphia, we stayed away from the big inning," Trembley said. "Here, we didn't stay away from the big inning. The first game, they put up five late. Tonight, they put up five late. Those are the things that are hard to overcome."
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