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By all accounts, Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is a man of faith. Good thing, too.

Baltimore Sun Orioles beat writer Jeff Zrebiec does an excellent job going through the lack of support the Orioles have given their surprisingly effective starter this year after Baltimore dropped a 3-1 decision to the Washington Nationals last night at Camden Yards. Guthrie went seven innings before he told manager Sam Perlozzo he was finished and left behind a 1-1 tie. Of course, the bullpen sent everyone home in a timely manner by giving up a run in both the eighth and ninth.

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If you've been following the O's, you know that Guthrie -- who once went on a Mormon mission to Spain -- has pitched well game after game and yet has just a 3-1 record to go along with his 2.57 ERA. Zrebiec figured out Guthrie's numbers as a starter, a Bob Gibson-like 1.72 ERA, but he has six no-decisions in his last seven starts.

Of course, the sad Guthrie saga pales in comparison to that of his team, now eight games under .500 after a three-game sweep by the Nationals, who barely qualify as a major league club (but who happen to have the same record as Baltimore right now, 29-37).

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Clutch hitting is COMPLETELY absent from the Orioles' offense. They were 0-for-8 as a team with guys in scoring position last night, Zrebiec points out.

I am not a Perlozzo basher. This is a team that can't even get bunts down to advance runners (Jay Payton struck out in the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second and no outs trying to do exactly that). But I'm not sure he can survive the homestand if the Orioles don't reverse things against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are actually a pretty good team. And I don't see where the next guy really has any chance to improve on things.

* I think I'm going to go on a different tack here. Instead of talking about the most outstanding performances elsewhere the previous night, I'm going to pass on who had a really rotten night to see if I can make the Orioles look any better by comparison.

Detroit's Craig Monroe tied a major league record by striking out five times against Milwaukee in a 6-5 Brewers victory. Monroe went through the usual antics, tossing helmets, flipping bats and knocking over water coolers. He was 2-for-12 in the series with eight strikeouts. Think there's room for him in the Orioles' clubhouse?

*  And as expected, the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA championship with an 83-82 victory over Cleveland last night, sweeping the Cavaliers in four straight. To their credit, the outmanned Cavs actually took a lead in the fourth period but then Manu Ginobili took over on offense for the Spurs.

After a quiet Game 3, Ginobili scored 27 points, 13 in the fourth quarter -- another indication of San Antonio's depth. Tony Parker was named the Finals MVP and got a big hug afterward from fiancé Eva Longoria, who got a little TV time during the Spurs' run to the title. With four league titles in nine years, the Spurs can be stamped one of sport's most dominating teams of the young century. We'll be talking more about the NBA later today.

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