PHOENIX -- The previous six days had been difficult enough that the last thing the Orioles needed was a long stay on the field to think about all that had transpired on the road trip.
But in a grueling fourth inning at Chase Field yesterday, when Steve Trachsel threw 38 pitches and the Orioles lost any chance of a series victory and a winning West Coast swing, there was ample opportunity for reflection.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' three-run fourth gave them a five-run lead and all but assured the Orioles' eventual 8-3 loss before an announced crowd of 27,744. It was one last blow to an Orioles team that was mentally and physically taxed on the trip.
They finished the trip 3-3, a respectable mark considering all of their distractions and that their opponents were two of National League's top teams.
"You certainly don't want to have too many [trips] like that. You lose your best player and your manager, but other than that ... " second baseman Brian Roberts said, with his smirk an indication that he was aware of the understatement.
On the day the Orioles arrived in San Diego, the first stop on the trip, their manager was fired and word leaked that Andy MacPhail was now running the team's front office. Joe Girardi, MacPhail's top choice to replace Sam Perlozzo as manager, turned down the Orioles' offer. And the mental toll became a physical one when a series victory over the Padres was marred by a minor injury to the Orioles' top pitcher - Erik Bedard - and a major one to their most accomplished hitter, Miguel Tejada.
The Orioles, in last place in the American League East with a 32-43 record, returned home late last night, looking forward to having today off, another opportunity to review how much things have changed in a week.
They'll begin a three-game series at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees tomorrow night, when the home fans will see Dave Trembley as the interim manager and somebody other than Tejada at shortstop.
"I think it is rebirth for our club, and another opportunity for our club to show the new-look Orioles," Trembley said. "What we're hoping for [is] the way the guys played on this road trip and especially the [way] the guys played when they were down 6-0 today. They didn't give in. They battled the whole time."
For most of the trip, the Orioles got good starting pitching and great defense. But those two areas let them down yesterday for the second straight game. Trachsel was particularly poor for the second straight outing, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and four walks in just four innings. In his past two outings, he has lasted a total of 8 2/3 innings, giving up 10 earned runs, 13 hits and seven walks.
Trachsel was once the Orioles' most consistent starter, but his ERA has risen from 3.39 to 4.55 in less than a month. Asked if he was concerned after allowing four earned runs or more in three straight outings, Trachsel grew defensive.
"Three or four starts? I don't know. You tell me," he said. "You're looking at different games than I am, I guess. I went seven [innings] and gave up four [runs] three starts ago. ... I've had two bad games. Sorry. Pitch great for two months and have two bad games. That's it. I've had eight bad games before."
Trachsel gave up a bases-empty home run in the first inning to Stephen Drew and a leadoff triple in the second to Chris Young, who scored on a sacrifice fly. On Young's triple, center fielder Jay Payton threw to the wrong base, allowing Young to coast into third.
In the Diamondbacks' three-run fourth, neither Payton nor rookie left fielder Jon Knott got a good jump on Chris Snyder's blooper to left-center, and Payton compounded matters by bobbling the ball, allowing Snyder to take second base.
Pitcher Doug Davis lined a single through the drawn-in infield, and Eric Byrnes followed with a single to extend Arizona's lead to 4-0. Orlando Hudson added a sacrifice fly before the marathon inning was over.
"All I can do is execute the pitches," Trachsel said. "I can't control anything else after that. I'm not going to come up with new pitches. You're trying to make the game too hard. It's not that hard a game."
Roberts tried hard to lead the Orioles out of a 6-0 hole, going 4-for-5 with his fourth home run of the season. But the Orioles didn't get enough clutch hits against Davis or the four Diamondbacks relievers that followed. The Orioles left 13 runners on base and 30 for the three-game series.
"Innings were long and [there were] deep counts, but we battled," Trembley said. "We didn't give it to them. We made them earn it."
After the 3-hour, 25-minute game, the Orioles dressed and headed to the awaiting buses for the start of a long trip home. They had lost two straight games, but they seemed more content than they did when they arrived on the West Coast last Monday.
"To be honest with you, I think most of the guys in here would say that the trip has been easy," said shortstop Chris Gomez, who had two of the Orioles' 14 hits. "It was mostly fun except for the injuries. Guys are relaxing and just playing. It is a lot looser around here. I think it will translate on the field, I really do."