Orioles drop seventh game in a row, 4-2, to Indians

  • Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta tags out the Orioles' Cesar Izturis.
Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta tags out the Orioles'… (Getty photo )
April 17, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND — The final three outs Sunday at Progressive Field provided a fitting conclusion to a demoralizing series and an awful road trip, one on which the Orioles were exposed in every possible way.

Trailing the Cleveland Indians by two runs in the ninth inning, Derrek Lee flied out on closer Chris Perez's first pitch. Vladimir Guerrero popped out on Perez's second pitch, and Luke Scott worked a seven-pitch at-bat before he struck out looking on a ball that appeared to have been outside the strike zone.

The Orioles went down meekly and quietly to the surging Indians in a 4-2 loss before an announced 13,017 and return for a long homestand with a seven-game losing streak, continued concerns about their starting pitching and plenty of questions about what happened to their supposedly strengthened offense, which has scored just 17 runs during the skid.

"We wouldn't have thought scoring runs was going to be the issue, but, obviously, our offense is not clicking right now," said Lee, who went 0-for-3 and is hitting just .212 with one homer and two RBIs. "Me sitting in the middle of the lineup and not getting on base doesn't help anything. We have to find a way to score some runs and take some pressure off the pitchers."

The Orioles (6-8) were outscored by the first-place Indians 20-7 in the humbling three-game sweep and never led. In the 0-5 road trip that included two losses to the New York Yankees in a rain-abbreviated series, the Orioles were outscored 33-16. The Orioles said the 5-0 fifth-inning lead they blew Thursday in New York wouldn't linger, but they were outscored 26-7 on the trip after that point.

"They all are [tough], but we're not going to sit around and wallow in our self-pity," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Let's move on. Nobody feels sorry for you in this game. We know what we need to do to get out of it. There is an opportunity [Monday] to have some good things go on. We played good on the road in Tampa, and we had trouble on this trip. You put it behind you, learn from it and you don't let it happen again."

The Orioles' latest loss was like so many others during this stretch. They were mostly shut down offensively, limited by Indians starter Fausto Carmona and two relievers to just six hits. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and just 5-for-24 in such situations in the series.

The Orioles scored their first run in the fourth inning on Lee's rally-killing double-play grounder after the visitors had runners on first and third with nobody out. The Orioles scored their other run in the seventh on Scott's sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to two. The Orioles had men on second and third and nobody out in the inning and managed just the one run.

"We have faced very good pitching, [and] a lot of guys are struggling at the plate. It's not a good combination," said Scott, who is hitting .200 with one homer and three RBIs. "We'll come out of it. We all believe in ourselves. When you go through tough times like this, they are not fun, but they happen, and we've had our share here for the last few years. We're not going to roll over."

In his first start since April 6 and just his second this season, Brad Bergesen was serviceable, allowing three runs (two earned) over five innings. However, he failed to break the trend of Orioles starters not going deep in games and putting their team into holes by giving up early runs.

Orioles starters have an 8.45 ERA during the losing streak and have logged just 33 innings.

"It's been really tough," Bergesen said. "We've got such a great ballclub, and we're going to get on a nice tear. I'm very confident that it's only a matter of time with that. We're right there, we're staying positive, we're staying confident. But a seven-game losing streak is just no fun. It's never an easy thing."

Bergesen's sinker was effective at times Sunday, but he also paid for leaving a couple of pitches up in the strike zone. Indians catcher Carlos Santana drove his 3-2 pitch in the second inning over the right-center-field wall. Playing in his first game since May 16 after a long recovery from left knee surgery, Grady Sizemore redirected Bergesen's 2-0 pitch in the third inning into the right-field seats.

For Sizemore, who got a standing ovation before his first at-bat and also doubled in the game, it was his first homer since Aug. 27, 2009, also against the Orioles.

Travis Hafner hit the Indians' third homer, a solo shot in the sixth off of Jeremy Accardo. That gave the Indians a 4-1 lead, a pretty comfortable margin when you consider just how much the Orioles' offense has struggled.

"[Carmona] threw the ball good, but it seems like kind of the same story every night," Lee said. "We're just not putting any pressure on them. It makes it tough on our pitchers. If we score some runs early, our pitchers can settle in and relax and go deeper in the game."

The 51 runs the Orioles have scored are the second fewest in the American League, ahead of only the Minnesota Twins, who are at Camden Yards on Monday for the start of a four-game series and a 10-game homestand.

"If you've ever been in the arena, they are trying," Showalter said. "You want something to happen, and it will happen. We're going to be a good club before it's over. We have been, we will be, and we are. ... We just need to trust our people. They are working hard; they are very frustrated right now because they know they are better than that."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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