Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie delivers against the White… (US PRESSWIRE photo )
CHICAGO — Jeremy Guthrie, whose talk with reporters after his previous start included jokes about his struggles against the Boston Red Sox and his admiration for former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette, spoke in measured tones with his eyes fixed on the floor.
Normally verbose and engaging, Guthrie's answers after the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night before an announced 18,007 at U.S. Cellular Field were short and indirect.
"I had chances to finish people. Didn't do it," he said.
Asked how he has coped with the frustration of getting so little run support, a pattern that has continued from last year, Guthrie said, "I just have to make good pitches."
Guthrie, the Orioles' Opening Night starter and the one veteran in the rotation, had done a remarkably good job of hiding his frustration until Monday, when the Orioles managed just two runs on Derrek Lee's homer with two outs in the ninth inning and the visitors trailing by six runs.
Bidding for their first four-game sweep here since 1995, the Orioles (13-14) went hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded 14 base runners. They had at least one base runner in every inning and had two men in six frames. White Sox starter Mark Buehrle scattered 12 base runners in 6 2/3 innings in recording his second win of the season and the 150th of his career.
"We had an opportunity," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We put those three games behind us. We knew Buehrle was going to be tough, but we liked our chances with [Guthrie]. We'll move on. We'll turn the page, and Kansas City is playing well. We'll have our hands full."
In Guthrie's six starts this season, the Orioles have scored just 15 runs. In his past five starts, they've managed just six runs while he has been in the game. That's why he's 1-4 despite a 3.00 ERA. He is 0-4 in his past five starts with a 3.38 ERA.
"He didn't have any margin for error," Showalter said. "I'd like to see us get ahead there a little bit. He was good again. He really wanted to finish that game. He's a little frustrated. He had good stuff."
Guthrie made some mistakes, allowing four runs and five hits, including two solo homers. Paul Konerko hit one of his two homers off Guthrie's 2-2 fastball in the fourth inning to give Chicago (11-19) a 2-0 lead. Alex Rios drove an 0-1 off-speed pitch over the left-field wall in the seventh inning, increasing the White Sox's advantage to four runs.
Back-to-back walks -- Guthrie's only free passes of the night -- led to Konerko's sacrifice fly in the sixth, and that could have been worse had Luke Scott not made a sliding catch in left field.
Still, Guthrie appeared to deserve a better fate when you consider that Buehrle (2-3) allowed two men on in each of the first four innings, one base runner in the fifth and two more in the sixth before the lefty was lifted after Lee's two-out single in the seventh. He did get some help as Juan Pierre robbed Brian Roberts of a potential two-run double with a diving catch with two outs in the fourth inning.
Asked about Guthrie's again behind the hard-luck loser, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said: "It's unfortunate, it [stinks]. But sometimes it's how the game goes."
In Guthrie's 18 losses since the start of the 2010 season, the Orioles have scored just 24 runs while he was in the game and just 41 runs total. The Orioles have scored three or fewer runs in 22 of his 38 starts since the start of 2010.
"He's doing great," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said. "He needs to just keep plugging away, doing what he's supposed to do. And eventually, we will get things rolling for him."
The drama was essentially taken out of the game when Konerko launched reliever Josh Rupe's pitch into the left-field seats, the two-run homer giving Konerko four RBIs and the White Sox a 6-0 lead.
However, two scary moments followed for the Orioles, both involving Markakis. The right fielder banged up his right knee, landing on a sprinkler head while trying to catch A.J. Pierzynski's bloop single in the bottom of the eighth.
Then, with two outs in the ninth inning, Chris Sale's 94 mph fastball glanced off Markakis' right hand. He immediately left the game, but Showalter said there were no plans for Markakis to get X-rays on either his knee or hand.
"It kind of woke me up a little bit, surprised me a little bit," said Markakis, who is optimistic that he'll be in the lineup for Tuesday night's series opener in Kansas City. "But I'm just glad nothing big came out of it, and [I'll] just move on."
Said Showalter: "We got lucky."
Perhaps they did, but on this night, Guthrie was feeling anything but lucky.