WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- Interleague play is officially over for 2008, and this time the Orioles might actually miss it.
Heading into this season, the Orioles had the worst interleague record in the American League at 79-114. Of all major league teams, only the Pittsburgh Pirates were worse.
Despite yesterday's loss to the Washington Nationals, it has been a strong interleague ride for the Orioles in 2008. They won four of their six series this year - losing only to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Nationals - and their 11-7 mark ties their club record set in 1999. It was just the third time they have finished over .500 since the scheduling change took effect in 1997.
Orioles manager Dave Trembley said the primary reason for the improvement is the team isn't as reliant on the designated hitter. Because of a more balanced roster, he has been able to rotate days off for third baseman Melvin Mora, first baseman Kevin Millar and usual DH Aubrey Huff without adversely affecting the quality of the lineup.
"I think as the season goes on and the days off get fewer and fewer and the weather heats up and the travel - we still have a 10-day trip left later in the season - I think they will all benefit from [the rest]," Trembley said.
Burres likely to start
Left-hander Brian Burres, who hasn't started since June 19, said he will start tonight against the Kansas City Royals.
A recurrence of a stomach ailment that cost Burres a start Wednesday threatened to scratch him again tonight at Camden Yards. But Burres, who underwent a CT scan that came back negative, said he felt much better and would be fine to pitch against the Royals.
"I wasn't very happy it happened, but everything is fine now and I'll just get back to playing," said Burres, who pitched one inning of relief Thursday.
Trembley talked to Burres after the pitcher ran and played pre-game catch and said he expects the left-hander to be back in the rotation tonight.
Loewen in limbo
Trembley said he spoke yesterday by phone with left-hander Adam Loewen, who assured his manager he was fine after a rough outing at Double-A Bowie on Saturday, in which he allowed a homer and a walk and hit a batter in two-thirds of an inning.
Loewen (sore left elbow) is on an injury rehabilitation assignment and is hoping to return to the big league team soon.
"I do not want him coming back here and having a bad outing and then telling me he had a bad outing because his arm wasn't 100 percent," Trembley said.
Trembley said he would talk with club president Andy MacPhail about how to proceed with Loewen and a decision might be made today. Trembley said Loewen wouldn't be activated until the club was positive he could be used for back-to-back relief outings.
Trembley and Nationals manager Manny Acta each is in his second season with his club. Neither had played or managed in the big leagues before being hired.
"You've got to have respect for a guy like him who also did it the hard way, not having a name, not playing up here or anything like that," Acta said. "He just worked very hard in the minor leagues to get this job."