O's run into trouble

The Baltimore Sun

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The frustration showed on the faces of Ramon Hernandez, whose base-running gaffe ruined a potentially much bigger first inning, and Brian Roberts, who represented the tying run in the ninth inning until he was picked off first base.

But no Oriole looked more defeated in a quiet post-game clubhouse than veteran Steve Trachsel, who was at a loss to explain his inability recently to get outs and keep his team in the game.

Trachsel had another miserable outing, surrendering six runs and three home runs in three-plus innings. That, and a few base-running mistakes, sunk the Orioles in a 6-5 loss in front of an announced 39,273 at Angel Stadium.

"I'm just really frustrated," said Trachsel (1-4), who hasn't lasted four innings in three of his past four starts. "I'm not real happy. I don't know what else to say. I just haven't been getting the job done lately."

The Orioles' slumping offense broke out, as manager Dave Trembley predicted before the game. The Orioles had a season-high 15 hits, 12 off Angels starter Joe Saunders, who had been one of the game's best pitchers through the first month of the season. Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff had three hits each, and Mora and Nick Markakis hit solo home runs.

Yet in the end, the mistake-prone Orioles (16-15) dropped the series and lost for the fourth time in five games. They are one game over .500 for the first time since April 16 and start a three-game series tonight against the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum.

"There was obviously mistakes made," Trembley said.

Thinking he had hit a home run off Saunders in the first inning, Hernandez slapped first base coach John Shelby's hand and jogged toward second base. He was thrown out there by a wide margin after his drive hit off the middle of the left-field fence.

Instead of having runners on second and third, the inning was over and Saunders (6-0) had allowed only two runs despite surrendering five hits.

"I really thought when I hit it - [he and Shelby] both [thought] that it was out, but the thing was that it bounced right at [left fielder Garret Anderson] so I couldn't watch the ball," said Hernandez, who also bounced into a double play with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth inning.

"You can't look back, man. You can't change anything. You have to take it inning by inning. We just came up short, and that stuff that happened just happened. All you can try to do is watch the ball a little longer and just keep running."

With the Orioles down a run in the ninth, Roberts, who had been thrown out trying to steal third in the first inning, led off with a single against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Roberts took an aggressive secondary lead and was picked off by Angels catcher Jeff Mathis. Rodriguez then retired Mora for the game's final out.

"It was a laser show early. We had to survive it, but we couldn't," said Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar, who broke out of a slump with two hits and two RBIs. "We didn't have good shutdown innings. We scored two, they scored four. We scored one, they scored two. You've got to have a shutdown inning, and we didn't today, so we lost."

Trachsel gave up four runs and two homers in the first inning, the big blast delivered by Torii Hunter, who connected for a three-run shot. Trachsel then gave up a two-run homer to Robb Quinlan in the third inning. His ERA stands at 7.42.

Trachsel's outing broke a streak in which Orioles starters had gone six or more innings in six straight outings.

Asked whether Trachsel's rotation spot could be in jeopardy, Trembley said: "I don't know. The game just got over. We're going to talk to [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and do what we've got to do."


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