Kevin Millwood dropped to 0-5 on the season as the Orioles were… (Reuters photo )
NEW YORK — There have been glimpses of the Brad Bergesen from last season.
He retired 14 straight and took a two-hitter into the eighth inning of his last start against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins on May 6, and then allowed only one run over 7 2/3 innings in his next start against the Seattle Mariners.
But those starts have been more the exception than the norm for Bergesen, whose 2009 form remains more elusive than ever. Bergesen allowed six earned runs, got just seven outs and never gave his team a chance to break their most recent losing streak in the Orioles' 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees Wednesday before an announced 44,465 at Yankee Stadium.
The shortest performance of Bergesen's young career left the Orioles with a seven-game losing streak overall, and seven straight losses to the Yankees, who will go for the series sweep Thursday afternoon behind ace CC Sabathia. The Orioles have lost 16 of their past 18 games in the Bronx.
And the latest one came with significant concerns about Bergesen, who is now 3-4 with a 6.75 ERA after 10 starts this season.
The second-year pitcher surrendered four earned runs or more in seven of 10 starts, and he's failed to go more than five full innings six times. Granted, four of those outings were his first four of the season when Bergesen was still building both his arm strength and confidence after an offseason of rehabbing a shoulder and shin injury.
However, more recently, Bergesen has let on 41 base runners and 19 earned runs in his past 21 innings. That included seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman in 2 1/3 innings Wednesday night.
It was that hit batsman, Francisco Cervelli, who was drilled in the back with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, which provided a fitting end to Bergesen's night. The pitcher, known for having precise control, was way, finding the strike zone with just 37 of his 69 pitches.
One of his few good pitches was a fastball on the inside corner that Alex Rodriguez took for a third strike for the final out in the first inning, stranding a runner on third in the process. In the second inning, Bergesen gave up a leadoff single to Robinson Cano, walked Jorge Posada and then gave up a two-run double to Curtis Granderson.
A single by Brett Gardner and a two-out, two-run double by Nick Swisher gave the Yankees a commanding 4-0 lead. With the way the Orioles have been hitting and the way New York right-hander Phil Hughes has been pitching, that figured to be more than enough runs.
Just in case, they tacked on two more against Bergesen in third, getting singles by Rodriguez, Cano and Granderson to load the bases with one out. That's when Bergesen hit Cervelli and Gardner finished the damage against the Orioles starter with a sacrifice fly off Mark Hendrickson that made the score 6-0.
The Yankees tacked on two more in the seventh on Cano's two-run blast off Matt Albers.
The Orioles got their only run in the sixth when Ty Wigginton hit a line single into right that scored Miguel Tejada, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles on the night. That's all Hughes allowed, scattering six hits and a walk and striking out seven in seven innings. He improved to 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA on the season.
It was the third straight game in which the Orioles were held to one run or less, and the 17th time in 53 games that has occurred. Overall, the Orioles have scored just 11 runs during this seven-game losing streak and five of them came in last Thursday's loss to Oakland.
Hughes also became the 28th opposing starter in 53 games to make it through seven innings against the Orioles.
But on this night, the Orioles' problems began and ended with Bergesen. Following his April 19 start against Seattle, where he allowed seven runs (four earned) in 2 2/3 innings his shortest career start before Wednesday night Bergesen was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
With prospect Jake Arrieta (6-2, 1.77 ERA) pitching so well for Triple-A Norfolk, Bergesen's leash could be getting shorter and shorter.