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Chen struggles, O's fall to Indians

BALTIMORE - While one team left keeping its torrid streak intact, another came in searching for a win.

Leave it to the Orioles to oblige both.

Their pitching failed them again Thursday with Cleveland opening a four-game series and beating the Birds 7-2 before 17,676 at Camden Yards.

Los Angeles came through and blasted Baltimore with its bats in a brief two-game series, and in doing so kept going the majors' best record since late April. Enter the Indians, who had lost five in a row before coming to town.

Johnny Damon's three-run homer in the second set the tone for the Indians, who were coming off a three-game sweep against the Yankees. Shin-Soo Choo added a solo blast in the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera launched a moon-shot down the right-field line in the seventh, good for a three-run homer, that put the Indians (38-37) up by five.

Zach McAllister, who was called up earlier in the day from Class-AAA Columbus, struck out 7 in 5 2-3 innings to pick up the win.

The runs were charged to Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who lasted 6 2-3 innings and allowed six earned runs, tying a season high.

Baltimore pitchers have surrendered nine homers in the team's previous three games. Chen fell to 7-4 and lost his second consecutive start after winning three in a row, one night after ace Jason Hammel got roughed up by the Angels.

And with the club a measly 3 for 52 with runners in scoring position over the last 10 games, the pitching staff might pressing as well.

"That's why they call it a team game, there's a lot of different things you have to do well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "And we have been, we just haven't been doing them recently. It does put some pressure on the pitching staff, but it also puts some pressure on the hitters. ... Every club this year has gone through periods similar, but it doesn't make it any more palatable for us."

Chen took the blame for Thursday's defeat, which sent Baltimore (41-34) to its seventh loss in nine games.

"Everything is my fault," Chen said through his interpreter. "I didn't think about the offense."

J.J. Hardy blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning and went 2 for 4. He came into the game mired in a 4-for-41 skid over his last 10 games, but the result was another loss and overall struggle at the plate. The Orioles have scored three runs of fewer in 11 of their last 12 games and have totaled a mere 14 runs in their last nine games.

"We went through it earlier in the year," said first baseman Mark Reynolds, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. "We're not picking up key hits. I had a bunch of chances tonight and just couldn't get it done. You get in these funks and just like when things are going good, everybody seems to pick up on the energy of it and when things are going bad it snowballs the other way. Everyone in here is frustrated but we'll snap out of it."

Hardy agreed with his fellow infielder.

"Just the last three games really haven't been too good," he said. "It's one of things where, the more you think about it, the more you try harder and harder. That's not what you need to do. It will turn around eventually. We'll turn it around and we need to start tomorrow."

NOTES: Matt Wieters nabbed his second career stolen base when he swiped second in the fourth inning. ... Nick Johnson, who went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sore right wrist, is set to undergo an MRI Friday to determine the severity of the injury. ... Dana Eveland is the Orioles' scheduled starter for Saturday's 4:05 p.m. game against Cleveland. ... The Orioles surpassed the 1 million mark in attendance this season with Thursday's crowd.

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