By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
12:09 AM EDT, July 9, 2013
Scott Feldman entered his first home start in an Orioles uniform on Monday more than familiar with his opponent.
Before signing with the Chicago Cubs this offseason, Feldman spent the first eight years of his career with the Texas Rangers, so the Orioles' newest acquisition knew the Rangers can score runs in a hurry.
Despite carrying a one-run lead into the sixth inning against his former team, Feldman and the Orioles fell victim to a Texas-sized sixth-run sixth inning in an 8-5 defeat in Monday's series opener in front of an announced 24,619 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles may have recorded their most productive offensive day in their last eight games — they hadn't scored more than four runs during their six-game road trip to Chicago and New York — but they wasted several early opportunities against left-hander Derek Holland.
The loss was the Orioles' fifth in their last seven games and their 11th in their 14 regular-season contests against the Rangers — not including their wild-card win over Texas last October.
“You can see why they've won 52 games,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the Rangers. “They're one of the best clubs in baseball, so you try to take advantage of whatever mistakes they made."
The Orioles 2(49-41), who entered the night tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for second- place in the American League East, dropped into third place after the Rays' 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
On Monday night, the Orioles were just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They stranded five runners in the first three innings against Holland, including three in scoring position. The Orioles placed two on and one out in both the first and third innings and were unable to plate a run off Holland either time. The leadoff batter also reached base in both the second and third innings.
“Yeah, we had our chances,” said Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning but also struck out four times. “We were able to get guys on with no outs and just couldn't quite get them in. It's something to where, sometimes you have games like that and you've just got to be ready to go tomorrow. If that situation presents itself, be ready to drive them in.”
Feldman, acquired last week in a trade that sent right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Chicago Cubs, allowed seven earned runs on nine hits — both season highs — over 5 innings. He entered Monday's start 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in seven career appearances.
But all of those successful starts at Oriole Park were for the Rangers — not against them.
“I wasn't too good,” Feldman said. “Got an early lead there and wasn't able to hold it down. Then to see us come right back after that big inning and get a couple more, that stings a little bit to have a big inning like that and let them get all those runs across.”
“I think location was not too good today,” Feldman added. “I was in a lot of hitters' counts. Then when I went into the hitters' counts I wasn't really making the greatest pitches. Getting a little too much plate and you can't really afford to do that with a lot of those guys in that lineup.”
Feldman entered the sixth inning leading 3-2, but the Orioles' lead dissipated quickly. With two on and one out, A.J. Pierzynski hit a double that tied the game. After an intentional walk to Mitch Moreland loaded the bases, Elvis Andrus chased Feldman from the game with a go-ahead single.
"There were some balls that found some places that you can't defend,” Showalter said. “I love our club defensively. It's just some balls seemed to find some spots. That's the way the game falls sometimes. Somebody said we finally benefited from a call at second base, too, so you can look at it both ways."
Left-hander Troy Patton didn't fare much better, allowing an RBI single to Engel Beltre and a three-run double to Ian Kinsler to put the Rangers (52-38) up 8-3 on their way to their majors-leading 25th road win of the season.
Feldman, who entered the sixth inning on his way to a quality start, allowed 12 base runners, a season-high nine hits and two hit batters. Feldman faced the Rangers for the first time in his career in May when he was with the Cubs and tossed seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball.
“I don't think anybody really had an advantage,” Feldman said of facing his old team. “I think if I would have made my pitches, things could have gone differently. I think when I faced them the first time I was getting a lot more first-pitch strikes and getting ahead in the count and was able to control the at-bat a little better.”
The Orioles have been outscored 69-40 in the sixth inning this season — a minus-29 run differential — their worst of any inning.
Before that, the Orioles capitalized on a key fourth-inning error that fueled a three-run inning that allowed them to take a 3-2 lead.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado drove in the go-ahead run on a two-out single, capping a three-hit night that gave him 122 hits on the season. Machado also recorded his 35th multihit game.
With the Orioles trailing 2-0 in the fourth, a walk to J.J. Hardy and a double by Nate McLouth put two runners in scoring position to open the inning.
Brian Roberts then hit a grounder to the right side that first baseman Mitch Moreland backhanded, but his toss to Holland covering first was wild, allowing both runners to score and tie the game 2-2 with no outs. Three batters later, Machado hit a two-out single past Andrus at shortstop to score Roberts and give the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Wieters struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Wieters inched the Orioles back with his two-run homer in the seventh, his 12th of the season and second in four games, hitting a 2-0 fastball the opposite way over the right-center field fence in the seventh inning to cut the lead to 8-5.
The Orioles brought the tying run to the plate later that inning, but reliever Ross Wolf needed just one pitch to retire pinch hitter Ryan Flaherty on a ground out to second to end the inning.
“Well, we scored five,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “The game turned on a big inning, the sixth inning, and we were unable to come back from it. ... You have to give Holland credit, he got into some jams and was able to get out of them, especially the first three innings. We let him off the hook, but that's why he gets paid the big bucks — he makes good pitches at times, also.”
Rangers closer Joe Nathan posted a perfect ninth inning for his 30th save, tying the Orioles' Jim Johnson for most in the AL. In the inning, Nathan struck out both Chris Davis and Wieters, who combined for eight strikeouts on the night and stranded a combined 12 base runners. It marked the fourth time in franchise history that two Orioles struck out four or more times in a game.
“It'd always be nice to get your pitcher a lead and let Feldy go and roll a little bit there,” said Wieters, who had inning-ending strikeouts in the first, third and fourth innings, stranding seven baserunners. “I had numerous opportunities with guys on base but couldn't get that big hit to stretch out the lead a little bit. Any time you can add runs against a team with that kind of offense, you need to do it.”
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