Orioles starter Brad Bergesen allowed six earned runs, got… (AP 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 even gave his team a chance to break its losing streak in the Orioles' 9-1 loss to New York on Wednesday night before an announced 44,465 at Yankee Stadium.
"Obviously, I was off tonight," Bergesen said. "I didn't have anything going for myself. From the first batter, Derek Jeter, it was a struggle. I just left pitch after pitch up, behind in all the counts. It was all bad for me tonight."
And it continues to be for the Orioles, who have lost seven straight games, two short of tying their season-long skid that led to a 2-16 start. They are 15-38 overall, have dropped 14 of their past 16 games and need to beat the Yankees and their ace, CC Sabathia, Thursday afternoon to avoid an 0-6 road trip.
They've also lost seven straight games to the Yankees (33-20) and 16 of their past 18 in the Bronx.
"It's not working, what we are doing right now," said third baseman Miguel Tejada, one of the only bright spots Wednesday night with three hits, including two doubles. "We need to start doing some better stuff. We need to do something. I don't know what we got to do, but we need to do something to pick it up. We got to play better baseball. We have a great group of guys, a great young team."
Bergesen is part of the team's young nucleus, but after Tuesday night's start, he's 3-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 outings this season. The second-year pitcher surrendered four earned runs or more in seven of 10 starts and failed to go more than five innings six times. Granted, he has been better of late than he was in his first three starts, when he and his 12.96 ERA were jettisoned to Triple-A Norfolk for 10 days so he could regain both his confidence and his command.
However, more recently, the 24-year-old has allowed 19 earned runs and 41 base runners in his past 21 innings. That included Tuesday night's line of seven hits, two walks and a hit baseman in 2 1/3 innings. It was the shortest start of his career.
"What he needs to get better at is locating his pitches," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think his stuff for the most part is OK, but a guy that's a sinkerball pitcher, it certainly seems like there's a lot of pitches up. I came in and looked at every one of the at-bats and the hits. They were all pitches in the middle of the plate and belt-high, and you can't get away with that if you are sinkerball guy."
Trembley said he hasn't even considered sending his starter down to Norfolk for a second stint, but with prospect Jake Arrieta carrying a 6-2 record and a 1.77 ERA for the Tides, Bergesen's leash certainly is getting a lot shorter.
"You need to have a better start, and we just didn't get it," Trembley said.
With Bergesen struggling with his command and mechanics all night, throwing just 37 of his 69 pitches for strikes, it was fitting that he drilled the final batter he faced, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, in the back with the bases loaded and one out in the third to bring in New York's fifth run.
One of Bergesen's only good pitches was a fastball on the inside corner that Alex Rodriguez took for a third strike for the final out in the first. The strikeout, which Rodriguez disputed, stranded Jeter at third after he reached base on a leadoff walk.
But 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 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, but the Yankees tacked on two more in the third for good measure. Cano then added to their lead in the seventh with a two-run blast off Matt Albers.
The Orioles got their only run in the sixth when Ty Wigginton hit an RBI single. That's all Hughes allowed, scattering six hits and a walk and striking out seven in seven innings to improve to 7-1.
It was the third straight game in which the Orioles were held to one run or fewer, and the 17th time in 53 games that has occurred. Overall, the Orioles have scored just 11 runs during the seven-game losing streak, and five of them came in last Thursday's loss to Oakland. But on this night, the Orioles' problems began and ended with Bergesen.
"To be honest, ever since I got called back, I've felt like I pitched fairly OK," he said. "Tonight was just a real bad game. I'm not going to look into it a whole lot. I'm just going to put it behind me, not dwell on it and go back to work tomorrow."