No Hrs But No Better For Guthrie

Orioles Starter Allows Five Runs, 11 Hits In 4 2/3 Innings

August 11, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

At least he didn't give up any home runs.

Jeremy Guthrie, who entered his latest start tied for the major league lead with 27 home runs allowed, kept the ball in the ballpark Monday, but very few of the balls were hit anywhere near his Orioles teammates.

The Oakland Athletics, last in the American League in batting average and third to last in runs, pounded Guthrie for 11 hits and five runs in just 4 2/3 innings in a 9-1 throttling of the reeling Orioles in front of an announced 14,688 at Camden Yards.

"I felt good tonight. ... A couple of hits here, one key hit there, an infield hit there, and they end up with five runs in a short amount of time," said Guthrie, who leads the AL in losses (12) and is tied for the major league lead in earned runs allowed (81).

The Orioles' latest loss was delayed by a violent thunderstorm that forced a 52-minute interruption of the game in the seventh inning, but it couldn't stop their precipitous fall in the second half. They have lost nine of their past 11 games and 18 of 24 after the All-Star break. They are a season-worst 20 games under .500, and have two games left against the last-place A's, who have outscored them 30-6 in four victories this season.

Though 11 of the Orioles' past 17 defeats have been by two runs or fewer, there also have been far too many games like Monday's, in which the starting pitcher puts the team in too big of a hole and is out by the middle innings, and a punchless offense is shut down by an unproven pitcher who entered the game with a bloated ERA.

A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who had a 6.31 ERA when the night began, took a shutout bid into the seventh inning, when Melvin Mora singled and Matt Wieters doubled, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

With the weather getting increasingly worse, the tarp was then applied to the field. When it came off just before 10 p.m, the Orioles stranded both runners, leaving them 0-for-11 with men in scoring position. They were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position for the game and are 6-for-35 in those situations over the past three games.

"It seems like when we do hit the ball hard, we hit it right at somebody," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Seems like when we get opportunities to make productive outs and drive a run in, we don't."

The Orioles, who have been held to three runs or fewer in five of their past six games, were three outs away from suffering their eighth shutout, but Luke Scott led off the ninth with a home run. It was his first since July 11, and the Orioles' first homer in 46 innings.

Guthrie, meanwhile, had allowed homers in six straight starts and 10 of his past 12 outings before Oakland failed to connect on a long ball. But that was little consolation to Guthrie, who allowed 12 base runners while getting just 14 outs. Mark Hendrickson relieved Guthrie after Mark Ellis' two-run single put the A's in front by 5-0. Ellis set a career high with five hits to go along with four RBIs.

"I've been consistently inconsistent," Guthrie said. "I wish I could change the story. I tried to change up my routine. I didn't talk to [the media] last time. ... Obviously, that didn't work either. It's not for a lack of trying. I'm trying to come up with solutions."

The 12 hits (all but one of them a single) were the most Guthrie has allowed, and the second most he has surrendered in a game in his career. In two starts this season against the A's, whose offense is statistically one of the worst in the AL, the right-hander has given up 11 earned runs and 18 hits, while pitching just 5 1/3 innings.

Overall, he has lost four straight decisions, and his 12 losses lead the AL. His ERA stands at 5.43, and the 81 earned runs he has allowed are tied for the major league lead. He is also 1-7 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 starts when caught by rookie Wieters.

"I am sure it is [confounding] for him as it is for us," Trembley said. "Because it looks like his stuff is there. One or two hits seem to be the ones that lead to the big inning."

Before the game, Trembley had predicted that Guthrie was headed for a solid night. The last thing he expected a day after yanking rookie Brian Matusz in the third inning was coming out of the dugout to get Guthrie before the fifth. But perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise with the way Guthrie's season has gone.

"I didn't start well in the [World Baseball Classic], and I haven't pitched well for more than one or two games at a time this season," he said. "It's not for lack of work. I've got some real tough things going on with luck and with execution and with the things I can control and the things I can't control. Nothing's gone my way."

ATHLETICS @ORIOLES

Tonight, 7:05

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