Thursday, May 1, 2008

Burres Solid, but Orioles Fall to Rays

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles haven't been hitting well lately, but starter Brian Burres didn't worry about that during Thursday's series finale with Tampa Bay.

Burres has been pitching much better this season, especially in his last three starts, and he just focused on that again, turning in another strong effort against the Rays. But the offense didn't help him much, and a defensive miscue helped Tampa Bay push across two runs in the top of the seventh to beat the Orioles, 4-2, before 16,456 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The left-hander allowed four runs on six hits in six-plus innings. He struck out six and walked three in his 110-pitch effort, but the Orioles got only three hits and didn't get a runner on base after Brian Roberts walked with two outs in the fifth.

Burres (3-2), however, just worried about his job.

"Every time I go out there, I feel good," Burres said. "I feel like I'm going to throw strikes and try to give my team a chance to win. I don't really think about it at all. I just go out there and concentrate on what I've got to do."

Burres gave up a run in the first to end his streak of scoreless innings at 13, and allowed a solo homer to Jonny Gomes in the fourth to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer from Adam Jones -- but that was their final hit of the game. After Roberts, who stretched his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single, walked with two outs in the fifth, the final 13 Orioles went down in order against starter Matt Garza (1-0), Dan Wheeler and closer Troy Percival.

Burres ran into trouble in the seventh, starting the inning by walking Shawn Riggans. Jason Bartlett followed with a single to center. The ball got away from Jones for his first error of the season and put Rays runners on second and third, with no outs.

"I just missed the ball, an in-between hop," Jones said. "You make mistakes, it just can't happen in that situation."

Jamie Walker came on in relief and struck out Akinori Iwamura before Carl Crawford broke the tie with a two-run single to left-center field.

That was enough for the Rays, who took two of three from the Orioles in this series. Baltimore now heads out on a 10-game road trip to Anaheim, Oakland and Kansas City.

Garza has been inconsistent at times this season, but looked good on Thursday. He gave up two runs on three hits in six innings. The right-hander threw hard and 63 of his 98 pitches went for strikes.

"His fastball had life, good velocity," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He pitched just high enough to tease some guys. There were some at-bats where, obviously, we got ourselves out chasing some bad pitches."

The Orioles were trying to bounce back from a similar situation in Wednesday's 8-1 loss to the Rays. In that game, Baltimore got five hits in the first 2 1/3 innings, but just one after that -- which came in the ninth after the Rays had broken the game open.

Trembley had said before the game that he wants the Orioles to focus on getting their pitch to hit and then doing it. Jones said the team might have gotten away from that a little bit in the last two games, but it'll concentrate on it out West.

"We go through struggles as a team," Jones said. "There's no problem in that. There's no panic in this locker room."

Heading out on a 10-game road trip this early in the season can be tough for a young team like the Orioles, but Trembley just wants them to shrug off the bad things and move on. The skipper wants this group to take it one game at a time, a point he often pounds home and something he wants his club to do on this trip.

"We've played an awful lot of close games to this particular point in time," Trembley said. "Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. We've got a nice long plane ride, so we'll get them ready to play."


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