When Jake Arrieta cruised into the fifth inning Saturday night after retiring a dozen consecutive Los Angeles Angels, the Orioles right-hander looked as if he would pick up his third quality start in four outings this young season.
By the time his head stopped spinning in the fifth at Angel Stadium, however, Arrieta was in the Orioles dugout smarting from his shortest stint since July.
The Angels collected five singles, three walks and five runs in the fifth to chase Arrieta on their way to a 6-3 win and a series victory against the Orioles (8-7).
"They weren't trying to do too much," Arrieta said of the Angels. "They were just trying to play small ball and keep the inning going. Those three walks there really hurt me there. I just couldn't make the pitch to get out of the inning, that's what it comes down to."
Arrieta (1-1), who had allowed just six earned runs in his first three starts this season, was charged with five earned runs, eight hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings.
Heading into the fifth, Arrieta and Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, last year's American League Cy Young Award runner-up, were dominant.
"I was pretty sure we were going to have a pretty good pitcher's duel there after the first four innings," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said.
Weaver took a perfect-game bid into the fifth, when Adam Jones reached on an infield single and Wieters crushed a 3-0 fastball into the right-field stands for the catcher's fifth homer of the season.
"I got the green light and it is something where you know Weaver's tough, so if you can get in a fastball count where you know you are going to get a fastball you can put a pretty good swing on it," Wieters said.
The Orioles' 2-0 lead was short-lived.
"We've had some trouble this year with shutdown innings after we score," manager Buck Showalter said. "We've got to go out there and, especially where we are in the order, shut that inning down. That's the game. We get a shutdown there, we are on our way."
Arrieta hadn't allowed a hit since a leadoff single by Erick Aybar in the first. He retired 12 straight before Torii Hunter singled to start the bottom of the fifth. Hunter moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by Arrieta -- his second throwing error of the game -- and to third on a wild pitch.
Hunter then scored on Mark Trumbo's RBI single. Arrieta sandwiched in a strikeout between two walks before Aybar singled a run home and Bobby Abreu laced a two-run single. Arrieta walked Albert Pujols to load the bases, and surrendered another RBI single to Kendrys Morales before he was mercifully pulled from the 35-pitch inning.
"I wouldn't say it unsettled me," Arrieta said of the error. "It was just a very, very tough mental mistake there, I made two of them."
Showalter didn't think the error led to Arrieta's unraveling.
"I hate to think that was it," the manager said. "We are always looking for something. I know you guys are looking for something that pushed the button. But I don't know if that's it. I'm more interested in the mentality of a shutdown inning after your team scores two runs off one of the best pitchers in the American League. You got to pitch that next inning like the seventh game of the World Series."
Arrieta's line could have been much worse, but reliever Matt Lindstrom induced two bases-loaded comebackers to limit the damage.
"The first four innings were very good," Arrieta said. "and I was on pace to have a very good outing tonight, the pitch count was down. So it's just frustrating that when we put up two runs in the fifth and I am not able to have a shutdown inning and extend my outing even further it's frustrating. Not really for myself but for the team. We get two runs off a guy like Weaver we need to do what we can to win the game."
Arrieta could only shake his head at going from cruising to losing.
"That's what was pretty shocking about the whole fifth inning. I felt like I was in complete control there," he said. "Torii hit a good slider down in the zone for a base hit to start the inning and it kind of got out of hand from there. So it's something that won't happen a lot, I'll assure you that. I just need to do a little bit better job of commanding the ball especially when I am behind in the count."
Showalter is eager to see the progress.
"He's not a young pitcher anymore, all right?" the manager said. "It's time to win those type of games; we shouldn't have that type of problems we had. We need a shutdown inning there and let's go. He's had enough experience to get through that. And he will."
"It's very frustrating, I know for him. There's no way he should be out of that game in the fifth inning [with] the stuff he was carrying. It's something where we know he's better than that. His command got away from him there. Wasn't getting the ball where he was supposed to, he had a good, liberal strike zone tonight that guys like Weaver take advantage of. Hopefully Jake will learn a lesson from it."
Weaver (3-0) took over from there. He allowed just one more run, a groundout by Wieters to score Jones, who had tripled. He finished what he started -- his ninth career complete game and first since last July against the Seattle Mariners.
Weaver allowed just five hits, walked none and struck out five in a 114-pitch effort. His ERA sits at 2.43.
"He is good," Wieters said of Weaver. "He knows how to pitch, he locates and uses all of his off-speed stuff. He was able to cruise through three or four innings before we could even get a hit."
The Angels (6-9) scored one more run, an unearned one, against reliever Luis Ayala in the seventh. It was set up by a Mark Reynolds' throwing error, his third of the season. It was the Orioles' second consecutive three-error night; they have 19 errors this season, tied for the major league lead with the San Francisco Giants.
The loss ruined the Orioles' chances of winning three road series on one trip, a feat they last accomplished in 1998.
And it left Arrieta wondering about what could have been.
"The first four innings were very good, and I was on pace to have a very good outing tonight, the pitch count was down," he said. "So it's just frustrating that when we put up two runs in the fifth and I am not able to have a shutdown inning and extend my outing even further it's frustrating. Not really for myself but for the team. We get two runs off a guy like Weaver we need to do what we can to win the game."
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