CLEVELAND - A night earlier, Orioles manager Dave Trembley kept Jim Johnson in the bullpen, rather than giving his most effective reliever the ball in the seventh inning after his team rallied to take a one-run lead.
The Cleveland Indians scored three times off Rocky Cherry, leaving Trembley the subject of second-guessing. Last night, a similar situation arose, and it was Johnson on the mound. It also was the same frustrating result.
Johnson pitched a scoreless seventh but allowed two go-ahead runs in the eighth as the Indians defeated the Orioles, 7-5, before an announced 21,143 at Progressive Field. Jensen Lewis pitched a perfect ninth to secure his second save and the Indians' fifth straight win.
"I'd do the same thing over again, both nights," said Trembley whose team dropped its third straight game, falling to 56-62. "It's that simple. People want me to use Johnson in the seventh inning, and to be honest with you, I don't think that's the right call. Your starting pitching dictates what you do. You've got to play the game correctly, and you've got to set your bullpen correctly."
Asdrubal Cabrera hit the tie-breaking single through Johnson's legs and into center field, scoring Shin-Soo Choo, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. It was the latest miscue for an Orioles team that tied a season high with four errors in the game, including two on one play by third baseman Melvin Mora in the fourth inning.
"Just executing pitches. It doesn't matter how many innings I've thrown," said Johnson, who hadn't gone more than one inning since July 11, a span of nine outings. "I just didn't execute a couple of pitches. By hitting Choo, I really didn't start the inning off the way I wanted to."
Garrett Olson didn't start the game the way he wanted to. Presented with a 2-0 lead, Olson surrendered four first-inning runs, the third straight game an Orioles pitcher has suffered that fate. Trembley admitted that things "probably would've gotten out of hand real quick if [Olson] didn't settle down."
Olson did find a rhythm and allowed one more unearned run while getting through six innings, no small feat for an Orioles team that had leaned on its bullpen to log nine innings in the previous two games.
"Obviously, I still have a bitter taste," Olson said. "I'm not pleased what happened that first inning. I felt like when I got to two outs, I should have closed it right there, and I didn't. As a result, I put the team in a hole. It's hard to come back. Even though we did come back and tie the game, it probably would have been a different story if that didn't happen."
Trailing 5-3 heading into the seventh, the Orioles scored twice in the inning after Indians left-handed starter Jeremy Sowers handed the ball to manager Eric Wedge. Lou Montanez got the rally started with a single off Sowers and Luke Scott's pinch-hit double off Masa Kobayashi put runners on second and third.
Brian Roberts stroked an RBI single to center to cut the Indians' lead to 5-4 and then Nick Markakis greeted left-hander Rafael Perez with a game-tying RBI single. That was the Orioles' last highlight of the night.
"This is a team game," said Roberts, who extended his hitting streak to 14, though Aubrey Huff's ended at 19 last night. "You just have to keep battling. We've been through plenty of times when we, as a team, weren't hitting. It's not like they quit on us as pitchers. It's just part of the game. We're going to keep battling, keep trying to score runs. If they give 'em up, we're going to try to get them back.
"I think the biggest thing is you can't press, you can't try too hard. You just have to go out there and try to make your pitches. It's going to turn around eventually."