Kevin Millwood stands on the mound after giving up a two-run… (Reuters photo )
There have been times this season when it would been perfectly understandable for Kevin Millwood to bemoan his tough luck, to complain about the lack of run support and the shaky defense behind him for many of his starts.
But Millwood, a veteran of 14 seasons, never did. He responded to every question in virtually the same stoic manner, saying he just needed to make better pitches and worry about what he could control.
While those were the perfunctory non-excuses of a good teammate, such a refrain was appropriate Tuesday night, when Millwood's two Achilles' heels -- rocky first innings and the home-run ball -- sank the Orioles in a 12-7 loss to the New York Yankees in front of an announced 23,171 at Camden Yards.
"We got plenty of runs today," said Millwood, who had been the recipient of just 33 runs in his first 12 starts. "I just didn't make good pitches. It's as simple as that."
It was the Orioles' ninth straight loss to New York after they beat the Yankees in the first meeting between the clubs this season. They've been outscored 57-22 during those nine games.
The Orioles (16-42) lost for the 11th time in 12 games and fell to 1-3 since Juan Samuel took over as interim manager.
This one was essentially settled pretty early, though the home team did at least make a game of it before the Yankees (36-22) went to work on the Orioles' flammable bullpen and scored six times in the top of the seventh inning. Adam Jones connected for a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth and Nick Markakis hit a two-run double in the ninth, but it was much too little and much too late.
"It's tough to come back on a club like this," Samuel said. "We kept coming. Guys kept coming. We were trying to keep the game as close as we could. It seems like the whole game they just kept getting two-out base hits, and I think that was the key right there."
Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher continued to pound the Orioles, going 3-for-6 with a homer and a career-high tying five RBIs. He is now 17-for-42 (.405) with three doubles, a triple, two homers, 10 runs scored and 12 RBIs in 10 games against the Orioles this season.
First baseman Mark Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph), who entered the game hitless in his previous 12 at-bats, broke out against his hometown team by going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and reaching base in five of his six plate appearances.
Millwood fell to 0-7, his career-long losing streak extending to seven games and his ERA rising to 4.64. He allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, permitting 15 base runners, 10 on hits and five on walks. He has allowed six runs in each of his past two starts, both losses to the Yankees. In his past three starts, he's 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA and has allowed 26 hits, including six home runs, and walked 10 in 17 1/3 innings.
"That's a team over there that you get guys on base and you make one bad pitch, and they're able to put up three or four runs in a hurry," said Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI. "I have no doubt that he'll get back to pitching like he was earlier in the year."
Millwood put his team into a 2-0 hole before the Orioles' first at-bat, walking Derek Jeter to lead off the game and then serving up a two-run homer on the first pitch to Swisher. It mirrored his previous outing in New York, when he also issued a leadoff walk to Jeter, balked in a run and then surrendered an RBI double to Robinson Cano.
The Orioles' right-hander has given up 10 total first-inning runs over his past four starts after not allowing a first-inning run in his first nine.
Millwood was again in trouble in the third, allowing singles to Teixeira and Robinson Cano and walking Jorge Posada to load the bases. He got ahead of Curtis Granderson but then watched the Yankees center fielder yank his 2-2 pitch onto the flag court in right field. It was Granderson's fourth home run and second career grand slam.
The veteran right-hander has given up 16 home runs this season, four more than any other pitcher in the American League.
"I wasn't able to make a pitch to Granderson, and that kind of turned the game around," Millwood said. "I'm just not throwing the ball where I want to enough. I need to locate to pitch well, and with five walks, I'm definitely not locating the way I need to be, even with some of the balls that they are hitting and located in bad spots. It's just simply throwing the ball where I need to more often."
Trailing 6-0, the Orioles scored twice in the fourth and once more in the fifth off Yankees starter Phil Hughes (8-1), but any thought of a comeback died in the top of the seventh inning. Swisher cleared the bases with a three-run double off Matt Albers, who then was touched for a mammoth homer by Teixeira, his ninth of the season.
By then, Millwood had retreated to the clubhouse, knowing he would have to wait five more days before making another attempt at his first win.
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