CHICAGO // His performance had been mostly overshadowed by the emergence of Jeremy Guthrie, but as far as pleasant surprises are concerned, Brian Burres takes a back seat to no one on the Orioles' roster.
Without a top prospect's pedigree and a power pitching arm, two things Guthrie boasts, Burres succeeded when injuries gave him an opportunity to prove himself in the Orioles' rotation. But in Burres? last start of the first half, his feel-good story came to a crashing halt.
Given an opportunity to secure a rare road series victory and continue the momentum heading into the All-Star break, Burres never gave the Orioles a chance. He allowed seven earned runs in just 1? innings of the Orioles' 11-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox before an announced 30,364 last night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago's victory secured a split of the four-game series and sends the Orioles to Texas for the final series before the All-Star break at 10 games under .500.
It was the shortest outing of the season for an Orioles starter. Burres (4-3) allowed six hits, including two long home runs, and walked one while throwing 49 pitches. Jermaine Dye hit a threerun home run as part of Chicago?s five-run first inning, where the first four batters Burres faced got hits.
Tadahito Iguchi, who doubled to plate the White Sox?s first run, then ended Burres' night with a two-run shot in the second inning that landed just to left of the Orioles bullpen, where Kurt Birkins had long startedwarming up.
Not too long after Iguchi tapped home plate, expanding the White Sox's to 7-0 before the Orioles? second turn at the plate, interim manage r Dave Trembley emerged from the dugout and motioned to his bullpen.
As White Sox fans serenaded Burres, he ducked in the dugout, calmly sitting down and removing his cap. He wore a look of disbelief, an appropriate reaction when your ERA goes from 3.38 to 4.27 in one outing.
Birkins logged innings, which is all Trembley wanted. But he eventually tired in his fifth inning of work, giving up three runs in the sixth, two of them on Juan Uribe's opposite-field home run.
The White Sox's three-run sixth expanded their lead to 10-2, significant breathing room for a beleaguered Chicago bullpen that the Orioles had their way with in their two victories in the series.
If the Orioles had any opportunity to come back on Chicago's rookie starter John Danks, it came in the third inning. They strung together three consecutive hits with the last one from Nick Markakis plating two runs. But that?s all the Orioles would get in the inning, and they still trailed 7-2.
They scored three more runs in the seventh inning as Freddie Bynum followed Aubrey Huff?s leadoff double with an RBI single. Corey Patterson then hit a long two-run home run off Danks to cut the deficit to 10-5. Patterson's homer, which traveled 423 feet into the right-field bleachers, was his second home run of the season and his first since April 10, the Orioles' eighth game of the season.
But there was no saving the Orioles on this night. Burres hadn't lost since May 16 at Toronto, a span of seven outings and six starts. Though Burres hadn't been getting deep into games for most of his previous nine starts, he had at least been giving his team a chance to win. In seven of those nine starts, he gave up three earned runs or fewer.
The 26-year-old left-hander was coming off perhaps his best start of the season as he held the firstplace Los Angeles Angels to three earned runs and five hits in a career-high 7? innings.
But perhaps the 121 pitches he threw in that game took their toll. Burres is just 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and Trembley said after his last start that he feels Burres pitches better on extended rest. Burres took the mound last night on the standard four days' rest.
Burres' performance also opens the door to speculation on whether he'll get his next start or be moved to the bullpen. Team officials have been effusive in their praise of Burres, saying he has earned a spot and isn't auditioning for the rotation.
However, club officials would also like to see a little more of prospect Garrett Olson, who made his major league debut Wednesday in place of Steve Trachsel, who went to the disabled list with a strained gluteus muscle. It appears Olson will stay with the club through the All-Star break, though Trachsel is expected to be activated from the disabled list in time to make his next start.
That means if the club decided it would like to see Olson get another start, it probably would come at the expense of Burres, whose performance last night at the very least gave the Orioles something to thing about ? for all thewrong reasons.