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Orioles come up small in clutch again; Did Bergesen do enough to save rotation spot?

Another night, another frustrating loss for the Orioles at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as they fell 4-2 and are now 1-11 in this building since 2009 and just 31-74 against the Oakland Athletics since the start of the 1999 season.

Brad Bergesen fell to 1-6, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings. He didn't pitch poorly, but he was done in by a failure to get the third out. Of the 12 baserunners that reached on Bergesen, nine of them came with two outs, continuing a frustrating pattern that started in Friday's series opener. In the series, eight of Oakland's 10 runs have come with two outs.

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"It's been a challenge for a lot of our guys, especially in the counts, too," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "We had a lot of counts in our favor, too. We were a hitter away from having some easy innings, just couldn't get it done."

Another challenge for the Orioles has been getting a clutch hit. The Orioles got at least one baserunner in every inning, but they went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranded 10 baserunners,and hit into two more double plays. A day after they managed just two runs despite Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez allowing five hits and walking five in five innings, the Orioles got just two runs off starter Josh Outman, who surrendered six hits and walked five over six innings.

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Over two games here, they have hit into six double plays, gone 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, stranded 16 baserunners, and scored just four runs despite having at least one baserunner in 15 of the 18 innings.

"We are stringing together good at-bats, but at some point, we got to make them pay for it," Showalter said.

Right fielder Nick Markakis was one of the biggest culprits tonight, going 0-for-4 and snapping his 12-game hitting streak.

He stranded five baserunners and came up empty in three at-bats with runners in scoring position. He's now hitting .222 with runners in scoring position this season.

"That's what we get paid for, those are the situations we want to be in," Markakis said. "Sometimes, we just press too much and try to do too much instead of [relaxing] and letting our abilities take over. It's frustrating, but you move on. We still have a lot of baseball left. I'm just trying to do too much in situations instead of going with a pitch here, going with a pitch there, and trusting my ability. I think I'm getting away from that a little bit."

Getting back to Bergesen, the big question was whether he did enough to save his rotation spot. Assuming that he gets through tomorrow's bullpen session, Brian Matusz will make his 2011 big league debut Wednesday in Seattle. There doesn't appear to be room for both Chris Tillman and Bergesen on the 25-man roster, though Showalter said after the game that it won't necessarily be one or the other jettisoned from the roster to make room for Matusz.

"That's down the road, obviously," Showalter said. "I'm not going to start handicapping it publicly, not to say that it would be either one of them either. [It] could be another form."

For the record, Bergesen is 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA. The Orioles have won just one of his nine starts. He's also gone six innings or more just three times.

Tillman is 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts. He's gone six innings or more just three times this season, including just once over his last six starts. However in those six starts, he's surrendered one run or less in five of them.

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