All the excitement the Orioles generated upon their return home lasted about as long as Matt Wieters' seemingly harmless fly ball in the second inning hung in the air before disappearing into the left-field seats.
Aside from Wieters' three-run home run, the Orioles did very little else right in their 10-4 loss to the Florida Marlins on Tuesday before an announced 14,821 at sleepy Camden Yards.
Jeremy Guthrie had one of his worst starts of the season, putting his team into a four-run hole in the second inning, and allowing six earned runs for the game. The bullpen made sure the Orioles had no chance to come back by surrendering three runs in the ninth inning with Matt Albers failing to retire any of the three hitters he faced.
The defense was again spotty, with second baseman Scott Moore failing to make a play in the Marlins' four-run second inning and committing a run-scoring throwing error in the eighth.
The offense managed a respectable 10 hits but went into a slumber in the middle innings against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez.
Throw all those elements together and it was a typical performance by the 2010 Orioles, who fell to 19-51 by dropping the first contest of a nine-game homestand. They have lost nine of their past 10 games to the Marlins and are 5-17 against them all time.
The Orioles have dropped 20 of their past 24 games overall and eight of their past 10.
Marlins All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and has 14 RBIs in his past four games against the Orioles. It was his two-run double off Guthrie that highlighted the Marlins' four-run second inning.
Guthrie entered Tuesday having lost four straight decisions. He hadn't pitched all that poorly during that stretch, compiling a 4.61 ERA. But during those four contests, the Orioles scored only four runs while Guthrie was in the game.
Poor run support is nothing new for Guthrie, as the Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts.
It also would help if Guthrie got off to better starts, something he again failed to do Tuesday night. He did strand two runners to turn in a scoreless first; entering the game, he had surrendered 11 of his 42 runs in the first inning.
But he put himself in immediate trouble in the second, issuing a leadoff walk to Cody Ross. Highly touted rookie Mike Stanton followed with a single, and Wes Helms lined an RBI single to center to put the Marlins on the board.
Guthrie got the first out on Ronny Paulino's drive to right field that Nick Markakis ran down, and he should have gotten a second out when Chris Coghlan hit a liner a little to the right of Moore. But the ball deflected off Moore's glove and rolled into center field, and the Marlins took a 2-0 lead.
If Guthrie had held Florida there, it would have been acceptable. However, Ramirez hit an opposite-field double that scored two runs and gave Florida a 4-0 advantage. Guthrie then drilled the next batter, Jorge Cantu, in the ribs with a first-pitch fastball, prompting plate umpire Doug Eddings to warn both benches. There was no further incident.
The Orioles wasted no time in answering against Sanchez. Ty Wigginton, on his T-shirt giveaway night, ripped a leadoff double to left field. Adam Jones then hit a one-out bloop single into left, putting runners on the corners. Wieters jumped on Sanchez's first pitch and sent a high fly ball to left field. It appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly, but the ball kept carrying all the way into the seats.
It was Wieters' sixth homer of the season and the Orioles' first of three runs or more since Luke Scott's grand slam off Seattle Mariners reliever Brandon League on May 13. It was also just their fourth homer of three runs or more all season.
With the score 4-3 by the bottom of the second inning, the game appeared to be headed for a slugfest. Instead, it turned into a pitchers' duel for the next four innings. After beaning Cantu, Guthrie retired 13 of the next 14 Marlins he faced to get into the seventh inning.
Sanchez, meanwhile, retired 12 of the next 13 batters after Wieters' homer. That streak ended when Markakis lined a double down the right-field line, putting the potential tying run on second with one out. However, Wigginton fouled out when left fielder Coghlan made a nice running catch just before the ball reached the seats. Scott then swung at and missed Sanchez's 3-2 off-speed pitch to end the inning.
The Marlins broke the game open with two more runs in the seventh, taking advantage of Guthrie's leadoff walk of Coghlan. Gaby Sanchez doubled over Markakis' head to score Coghlan, and Ramirez made it 6-3 with an RBI single off Jason Berken.
That ended Guthrie's line with six earned runs, seven hits and two walks over six-plus innings. It tied his season high for runs allowed.