Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Orioles' Rally Falls Short Against A's

OAKLAND -- Baltimore's charmed early-season run was framed in a new perspective Tuesday by a loss that dropped the team below .500 for the first time since Opening Day. The Orioles fell behind the A's early and were never able to catch up en route to a 4-2 loss, a result that gave them four straight setbacks and eight in their last 10 games.

The offense has been the primary culprit during the recent skid, with the Orioles collectively struggling to get anything going. Baltimore has scored two runs or fewer in six of its last 10 games and has lost all six.

"Everybody in baseball goes through it, and we're going through it right now," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "We're in every game. We're competing. It just seems things aren't going our way. Obviously, you make your own fortune, but I have no problem with the approach. We're doing everything we can to try to score some runs.

"It's not happening for us right now. We're getting some well pitched games, but it seems like when we make one mistake, it costs us. We're looking for a big hit, we're looking to open it up. It hasn't happened right now, but it will."

The Orioles had just one extra-base hit in Monday's game and didn't record any on Tuesday night. Two of their four hits came in their two-run fourth inning, and Baltimore didn't push a runner into scoring position in any of the other eight innings. The Orioles (16-17) never led on Tuesday night and have scored just 13 runs in the first five games of their road trip.

"I don't think it's about the lineup or about this or about that," said third baseman Melvin Mora, who singled and was doubled up in the sixth inning. "I just think every single guy needs to know what they have to do for us to win the game. We have to put it together and go out there and have fun like we do it in Spring Training. Just go out there and have fun."

Baltimore starter Brian Burres was dinked and dunked for several hits in the first few innings, but he managed to limit the damage and keep his team in the game. Oakland reached Burres (3-3) for seven singles in the first three innings, but the southpaw managed to keep the game close and rallied as the evening progressed.

Burres recorded two quick outs in the first inning, but Oakland (21-14) reached him for three straight singles after that. Right fielder Emil Brown drove in the game's first run, and the process repeated itself in the third. Brown singled to load the bases in that rally, and Oakland sent two runs home on two groundouts. After that, Burres would only allow one more hit.

"I really just got away from my fastball early and put them in some hitter's counts," he said. "When they do hit it on the ground, they get a little more on it. They were able to swing a little harder, so I just got back to the fastball a little bit, getting ahead of some hitters and getting some quicker outs."

Oakland's Justin Duchscherer no-hit Baltimore for three innings Tuesday, but he walked two of the first three batters he faced in the fourth. Designated hitter Aubrey Huff made him pay with a run-scoring single, and Luke Scott provided Baltimore's other run on a sacrifice fly. Undaunted, Oakland notched an insurance run in the sixth and hung on to win.

"When a couple guys aren't hitting, we're all not hitting," added right fielder Nick Markakis, who has reached base safely in 30 of his 33 games. "Once we start getting our feet under us, we'll try to finish up this road trip strong. We had a rough first month with travel and coming out here for 12 games. And we still have five games ahead of us on this trip.

"We're going to battle and try to win as many of those ballgames as we can."

The last time Baltimore was under .500, the Orioles responded with a six-game winning streak. They made it five games above the break-even mark one other time this season, reaching a peak they never experienced last season. After the recent losing skid -- which includes five losses by two runs or less -- Baltimore is just one game ahead of last year's pace.

"I'm sure it's more frustrating for the players than it is for me," said Trembley of his team's recent offensive woes. "I'm not swinging the bats, I'm not up there. These guys want to do well. They're tremendously gifted young men [and] they have a tremendous sense of pride. It's not because of a lack of effort and people are not trying.

"They're just going through a phase right now where it's not happening, and I think the worst thing in the world you can do is shove it down their throats [like] they're not trying the best they can. Because I know better."


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