Monday, April 28, 2008

Orioles Unable to Get Guthrie First Win

CHICAGO -- The last time Jeremy Guthrie won a baseball game, his manager only had been on the job for five weeks. Eight months later, his slide continues.

Baltimore's starter allowed two home runs in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox on Sunday and hasn't won since July 27 of last season, a stretch of 15 starts that has seen him pitch competitively.

Guthrie has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 15 starts, and he's taken 10 no-decisions over that span. While bad luck may have been involved in his closing kick last season, run support has been the culprit this year. Heading into Sunday's start, Guthrie's run-support figure (2.89 runs per game) was the fifth-lowest in the American League.

"I'm just pitching well enough to lose. Hopefully, I can get a little bit better and one or two runs will help me pitch well enough to win a game," Guthrie said. "It's not the losses. As long as I'm pitching well, keeping us in there and giving myself a pretty good chance to win, you can be pleased and you can build off it. I don't think it's an extra goal.

"You're not going to go home with a smile after the game, but at the same time, you have to realize that if you continue to do that, it can swing in a heartbeat and all of a sudden you can reel off some wins."

Guthrie has been especially prone to home runs during his winless streak, allowing 18 in his last 15 starts. He's allowed two home runs in a game seven times over that stretch -- including twice this season -- and he is 0-3 in those circumstances. Paul Konerko hit both of the home runs Sunday, going deep in the second and sixth innings.

Chicago's cleanup hitter gave the White Sox (14-10) the first lead of the game with his first home run, and he put the home team ahead for good with his second. Both homers went to left field, Konerko's pull side. Guthrie (0-3) stranded a runner in scoring position in the third inning, and he left the bases loaded in the fourth.

"He knows how to compete. He does the best he can every time out there," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, who has seen just four Guthrie wins during his tenure. "I just think today he didn't have his best location. His pitch count got up real early in the game. ... Guthrie goes right at you and goes at you with his fastball, trying to pitch in somewhat.

"I don't see any kind of frustration. ... He's going to keep running himself out there, and we have a lot of confidence in him."

White Sox starter Jose Contreras dominated the Orioles for the second time this season, working into the seventh inning and allowing just one earned run. Baltimore pushed a runner to third base in the first inning but wasn't able to score, and second baseman Brian Roberts provided the road team's only run with a solo homer in the third.

"He just gets us to expand the strike zone," Trembley said of Contreras. "He kind of teaches us with his fastball. When we hit it on the barrel, it's usually right at somebody. And then [when] he throws that split -- which is usually out of the strike zone -- we get a little overanxious and chase it. But he comes at you with all different kinds of arm angles.

"I just wish maybe we'd hit a couple of bleeders on the end and drop in there -- then maybe we get a big one."

Guthrie allowed a single right after Konerko's second home run, and Baltimore immediately went to the bullpen. Matt Albers allowed a hit, and then a sacrifice bunt pushed both runners into scoring position. Chicago's Brian Anderson, who came through with the game-winning hit in the second half of Saturday's doubleheader, came through with a bizarre single.

Orioles shortstop Brandon Fahey fielded Anderson's ball cleanly, but he threw wildly to the third-base side of home plate. That allowed an additional run to score, and Ramon Hernandez also was charged with a throwing error on the play, allowing Anderson to advance to second. Albers got out of the inning after that, making it a three-run game.

Greg Aquino, who hadn't pitched since April 15, got some work in the seventh inning. The right-hander walked three batters and hit another to force in a run. One more scored on a fielder's choice after he left. The bottom line, though, is the Orioles were unable to score enough to keep their Opening Day starter in the game.

"He's faced some pretty tough pitching," said Aubrey Huff, who started at first base and went 1-for-3. "It seems like everybody else we're getting runs for, but not him. It's just something you can't explain."


Baltimore Orioles News