BOSTON - -In the continued search for a silver lining in what is shaping up to be another brutal second half, the Orioles can say that, at the very least, they're not being blown out.

It's certainly no consolation for a team that has won just one of its seven games since the All-Star break with the latest narrow defeat coming on Friday in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in front of an announced 38,058 at Fenway Park.

It is, however, an early departure from past second halves when the Orioles have suffered one lopsided loss after another, one more humiliating than the next.

In going 1-6 so far on their nine-game road trip to open the second half, the Orioles (41-54) have been outscored 35-31, dropping two one-run games and three two-run contests.

Make no mistake, good teams find ways to win close games and bad teams find ways to lose them, and the Orioles offer more evidence every night that they're not a very good baseball team.

In Friday's loss, the Orioles' indiscretions included rookie starter Brad Bergesen putting the leadoff man on in the first five innings of an otherwise solid six-inning start.

The offense allowed Brad Penny, who entered the game with a 5.02 ERA and just one win in his previous nine starts, to hold them to one unearned run over 6 1/3 innings, and it couldn't score a run in the ninth against All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon despite having men on the corners and no outs, and the bases loaded and one out.

"It seems like our games are hit-or-miss as an offense," first baseman Aubrey Huff said.

"We'll score six, eight runs and not win, and then we'll get two and get good pitching all night. It's been frustrating overall. It's been an up-and-down year offensively. What do I say? It's been a rough go the last two weeks."

Huff had a particularly tough game, failing to field David Ortiz's hard grounder in the fifth and then making what was probably the wrong decision later in the inning on J.D. Drew's eventual RBI groundout that gave Boston a 3-1 lead.

With men on the corners and one out, Huff fielded a one-hop grounder and opted to go to second, where Cesar Izturis' return throw was too late to get the double play.

Huff's other options would have been to throw home and try to get the out or to touch first and try to complete the double play on the plodding Ortiz by then tossing to second base.

"I know what the options were, and the one he chose didn't work out," Trembley said.

Huff also failed to come through in the ninth after Adam Jones and Nick Markakis led off with singles against Papelbon to put runners on the corners.

Huff popped out to shortstop Jed Lowrie for the first out, extending his slump to 1-for-16.

After a great at-bat from rookie Nolan Reimold to draw a walk, Papelbon struck out Luke Scott on three pitches and got Melvin Mora to swing through a 3-2 fastball.

"It usually comes down to three occurrences during the game," Trembley said, talking about pitching, defense and timely hitting.

"If you only get one of them to go your way, you're going to get beat. If you get two, you've got a chance. If you get three, you're going to win. Tonight, defensively, we did very well. We didn't hit with men on base."

The Orioles' 0-for-6 performance with runners in scoring position ultimately overrode some positive signs for the reeling club.

Bergesen didn't have anything near his best stuff, yet he still delivered his sixth straight quality start and the 10th in his past 11 outings. He did fall to 0-4 on the road.

"The guy's got a lot of guts," Trembley said.

"I think he's a keeper. I think he's a major league pitcher, and he showed it tonight."

Reimold had three of the Orioles' seven hits and drew the clutch walk in the ninth inning.

Mora didn't have any hits, but he did put together a gritty 14-pitch at-bat that resulted in a second-inning sacrifice fly and the Orioles' only run.

Right fielder Markakis made a sensational throw to catcher Matt Wieters to cut down the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate in the sixth inning. The throw was on target, and Wieters performed a textbook block of the plate in what was easily one of the team's best defensive plays this season.

But with little margin for error, the Orioles still didn't do enough to beat a good team.

The Red Sox (56-39) broke a five-game losing streak and have beaten the Orioles at Fenway Park 10 straight times.

The Orioles are just 2-26 in their past 28 road games against American League East teams and 15-33 overall away from Camden Yards. It doesn't matter that most of the recent losses have been close ones.

"That's what it seems like the whole road trip so far," Bergesen said.

"A lot of people hate to hear it, but that's just baseball. Hopefully it will flip-flop for us and we'll start winning those games."


Tonight, 7:10


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Hill, Berken get another chance PG 3

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