Orioles one-hit by Braves' Jurrjens in 4-0 loss

Atlanta starter stymies O's, as Guthrie takes 10th defeat of season

July 02, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

ATLANTA — — This time, there was no flurry of missed opportunities to lament, no rash of runners left in scoring position or rally-killing double plays.

It took about everything the Orioles had to even get a hit off Atlanta Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, so expecting them to string a couple together and start a rally was just asking for too much on Friday night.

Jurrjens retired the first 15 batters that he faced before issuing a leadoff walk to Mark Reynolds in the sixth. He didn't give up a hit until Adam Jones' single up the middle with one out in the seventh. And the Orioles never did manage a run, falling, 4-0, to the Braves as Jurrjens threw a complete-game, one-hit gem, and Jason Heyward hit a tie-breaking, sixth-inning homer off Jeremy Guthrie in front of an announced 33,261 at Turner Field.

“He was good … but we got to beat those guys, too,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jurrjens, who leads the National League with 11 wins and a 1.89 ERA. “You got to beat the good guys if you want to get where you want to go. We hit a couple balls hard [that] they made a couple nice plays on. But we really didn't have much. We come off a night where we had 15 hits and go back to one. That was frustrating.”

It was the Orioles' fourth straight loss and their seventh in their past night games, dropping them to nine games under .500 at 35-44. They've been held to two runs or fewer in three of the last four games, but they haven't been dominated as thoroughly by a starter as they were Friday.

Following in the footsteps of St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter and becoming the second pitcher in three days to throw a complete game against the Orioles, Jurrjens, 25, allowed just two base runners.

The Orioles' one hit was three fewer than what had been a low in a game this season, and their fewest since they matched that number against the Seattle Mariners' Jarrod Washburn on July 6, 2009. They were shut out for the third time this season and the first since Tampa Bay Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson did it May 7.

“Any pitcher that is locating well, you may get one pitch an at-bat to hit,” Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds said. “And if you miss it, then you got to hit his pitch, and we hit his pitch a lot tonight. And the results are what happened on the field.”

Of the 27 outs that Jurrjens got, eight came via strikeouts and 11 came on ground balls, including three from the bat of Nick Markakis, whose career-high 19-game hitting streak came to an end.

Derrek Lee, whose liner was caught in front of the right field wall by Heyward in the second inning, and Jones, who was robbed of an extra base hit by Nate McLouth in the fourth, were pretty much the only Orioles to make good contact. Jurrjens also threw 77 of his 112 pitches for strikes.

Asked about Jurrjens' abililty to pound the strike zone, Showalter, who clearly wasn't thrilled with the performance of home plate umpire Brian Runge, said: “That's a matter of opinion, but yeah, he's been doing it all year before he got hurt. He's one of those guys, when you get to this level there aren't any secrets. You know exactly what they are going to do and how they are going to go about it. And it's a testament to their command and stuff and the multiple ways to get you out that they continue to be able to have success.”

For five innings, Jurrjens was mostly matched by Guthrie, who had retired 16 of the first 18 batters that he faced and needed only 60 pitches to get his first 16 outs.

Jordan Schafer broke Guthrie's streak of 11 straight batters retired with a one-out single in the sixth, and then Heyward turned around a high 92 mph fastball on an 0-1 count into the right-center field seats. The two-run homer was Heyward's eighth of the season and his first since April 29.

“What did you think?” Guthrie said when asked whether he had executed the pitch that he wanted to throw. “Did you watch? Did you watch the glove? There you go. I tried to throw it right to the glove.”

The Braves broke the game open with two more runs in the eighth. Guthrie started the inning but allowed hits to the first two batters that he faced before being lifted in favor of Pedro Viola. In suffering his 10th loss, which ties him with Cleveland Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona for the American League lead, Guthrie allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out six. He became the first Orioles pitcher to throw seven innings since Jake Arrieta on June 10 against the Rays.

In six of Guthrie's 17 starts this season, the Orioles have not scored a run while he was in the game.

After the homer by Heyward, essentially the only drama left was whether the Orioles could get a hit. That question was answered when Jones bounced a single up the middle by diving second baseman Dan Uggla, who wouldn't have had a play on the ball even if he had come up with it.

“Honestly, I wasn't thinking about that,” Jones said about the no-hit bid. “That's for other people to think about. I'm just going up there trying to get on base … We just couldn't string anything together. He did exactly what he wanted to do. The plan that he had going into this game, it worked.'

Despite their offensive struggles over the years, the Orioles haven't been no-hit since Boston Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz did it on Sept. 1, 2007, at Fenway Park in his second big league start. The Orioles avoided that dubious fate Friday, but that was about all they did offensively other than getting overmatched by a really good young pitcher at the top of his game.

“We're trying. We're giving our best efforts,” Jones said. “It's frustrating right now. We all feel good, we all go out there with a good plan. It's just the execution is not coming through right now.”


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