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Walker not using injuries as excuse

Orioles reliever Jamie Walker will have a magnetic resonance imaging on his ailing left elbow after the season, but he refuses to blame injuries for the most difficult year of his big league career.

"I have no excuses," Walker said. "It's just been a bad year for me. I'm hoping that there is nothing in [the elbow], and I'm just going to try to finish the year out and we'll go from there."

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Walker pitched a scoreless inning last night, lowering his ERA to 6.25, more than three runs above his ERA last season, when he was the Orioles' most reliable reliever. Walker started the season with a career 3.84 ERA and hadn't had an ERA over 4.00 since 1998, when he appeared in just six games for the Kansas City Royals.

Perhaps most concerning, Walker, who had established himself as one of the better left-handed specialists in the game, has allowed lefties to hit .301 against him with seven home runs. He has surrendered a total of 12 home runs, three more than any other season in his big league career.

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"Obviously, the home runs, they've hurt a lot, and my earned run average is probably the worst it has been in my career," said Walker, who will enter the last season of a three-year, $12 million deal he signed with the Orioles in November 2006. "I think I fell in a rut the first couple of months. It was miserable. I'm a prideful guy. I'm going to bust my [butt] this winter, and hopefully, I'll get that chance to redeem myself."

Walker missed nearly a month with inflammation in his left elbow. He acknowledges that his elbow has bothered him this season, but he stopped short of saying it has affected his performance.

"I felt more pain this year, but I am 37 years old," Walker said. "I know the difference between pain and being sore. But when you are this old and you throw for this long, you deal with it. You go on any pitcher this age and something is going to be wrong, probably. But I have no excuses."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley acknowledged that Walker's health and performance this season have been a "red flag."

"You go, 'Hey, is it my fault, did I use him too much, or is [he] just running out of gas?' " Trembley said. "Guys have bad years and come back and have better years. I think he would really benefit by an offseason of rest."

Guthrie scratched

Jeremy Guthrie won't start tomorrow night against the Minnesota Twins as planned.

Guthrie, who has been struggling with a tired right shoulder, hasn't pitched since Aug. 29 but has already thrown a career-high 186 2/3 innings. Garrett Olson will take his spot tomorrow.

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"We know right now the arm doesn't have any structural problems," said Guthrie, who acknowledged he is still feeling some discomfort. "It's just one of those things where you need to wait for the pain to go away so that when you do pitch, you don't cause anything else to happen."

Loewen impresses

Trembley isn't sure what kind of offensive player Adam Loewen will turn out to be, but the pitcher-turned-batter has already made quite an impression on the manager. Loewen, whose career as a pitcher ended this season because of persistent elbow problems, has been working all week with hitting coach Terry Crowley.

They'll have one more session today before Loewen reports to instructional league. Trembley said Loewen will start next season as an outfielder in Single-A.

"If hard work is an indicator of success, Loewen will be a success as a hitter because he's worked his butt off here, he really has," Trembley said. "He's got so many calluses on his hands [that] gloves are not doing him any good. He has worn his hands to a frazzle by swinging and working."

Around the horn

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Trembley confirmed that Matt Albers (torn right labrum) has officially been shut down for the season. ... The Orioles activated closer George Sherrill from the disabled list. ... For last night's game, the Orioles wore their stars and stripes logo hat, which they sported for the first time July 4, and welcomed injured service men and women from Walter Reed Medical Center.

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Saves recorded by Orioles relievers in closer George Sherrill's 3 1/2 -week absence


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