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Another shaky start, another O's loss

The Baltimore Sun

BOSTON - When manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz summoned all the Orioles pitchers into a small room in the corner of the visiting clubhouse about 2 1/2 hours before last night's game, Garrett Olson remained outside.

The rookie left-handed pitcher sat at a table in the middle of the clubhouse and read a book, and then he consumed a pre-game meal before preparing for his start. He had heard the message Trembley and Kranitz delivered in the 45-minute pitchers-only meeting plenty of times before.

He knew he needed to cut down on his walks and pitch with more confidence and conviction. He knows he is running out of opportunities to prove he belongs in the Orioles' future rotation plans. However, executing and consistently getting major league hitters out right now seemingly remains beyond Olson's grasp. He got off to a rocky start and had a worse finish in the Orioles' 7-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox before an announced 37,565 last night at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (63-74) brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning against All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon, but Oscar Salazar grounded out to end a gritty at-bat, securing the team's fourth straight loss and its ninth defeat in the past 10 games.

Adam Jones hit a home run on his first swing back from the disabled list - "Only the special ones can do that," Trembley said - and Kevin Millar and Juan Castro added solo shots off Paul Byrd. However, Orioles pitchers, who were both lectured and encouraged during the pre-game meeting, walked 10 more batters and have issued 35 free passes over the past four games.

"It's one of those times," catcher Ramon Hernandez said. "They're not trying to walk anybody. Sometimes, it's tough and we're going through a really tough time."

Olson, who fell to 0-4 with a 7.76 ERA in six starts against the Red Sox and is 8-7 with a 6.53 ERA in 22 starts this season, walked three batters in the first inning, gave up back-to-back solo homers in the second and could not get out of the sixth in failing to protect a 3-2 lead.

Olson had retired 12 of 13 batters heading into the sixth but strayed from his fastball in the inning, much to Trembley's dismay. He allowed consecutive one-out doubles, with Jed Lowrie's shot off the Green Monster tying the game at 3. Olson then made a critical error in walking No. 8 hitter Jeff Bailey, allowing Coco Crisp to come up and put the Red Sox into the lead with a bloop single.

Two batters later, Dustin Pedroia broke the game open with a two-run single to right field off Dennis Sarfate. The hit was Pedroia's 184th of the season, breaking the Red Sox's record for hits in a season by a second baseman.

"I thought the walk to Bailey in the sixth was the one that really hurt," Trembley said. "We just couldn't get the third out."

Coming off a two-start stint at Triple-A Norfolk during which he worked on his fastball command, Olson allowed six earned runs, six hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings. He acknowledged that his key error was going away from his fastball in the decisive bottom of the sixth. Trembley estimated 20 of Olson's 27 pitches in the inning were off-speed.

"I think I started to get a little defensive out there instead of staying with my fastball," Olson said. "I threw way too many breaking balls and changeups in the sixth inning, which I think kind of threw me off a little bit."

Asked whether he knew the reason Olson got away from his fastball, Trembley said: "I don't. But he learned a lesson because of it, I'm sure."

Trembley acknowledged before the game that he is prepared to deal with the growing pains of the young pitchers. That's why he and Kranitz tried to remain positive in the meeting, no matter how bleak things currently are.

"No one's holding a gun to anybody's head, no one's yelling at anybody, no one's threatened anybody," Trembley said "I think I have as much patience as anybody. I think I understand that process is going to be painful. Down the road, hopefully, what guys go through now will lend itself to being better. You've got a young club, you've got to deal with it. It is not easy, but you've got to deal with it."

Tonight: Orioles@Red Sox, 7:05

TV: MASN

Radio: 105.7 FM

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