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Orioles lose game, series to Marlins as offense continues to struggle

MIAMI — Orioles center fielder Adam Jones sat by his locker following his club’s disappointing 5-2 loss Sunday and said it was time for the Orioles, as a team, to establish their winning identity this year.

“This is the adversity stage. How do you respond to this? That’s what makes and separates the big league guys and the good teams,” said Jones, the longest-tenured Oriole. “How do you come back from struggles? How do you combat that? How do you make the adjustments? We have a great team. I love these guys and I know we are going to come back tomorrow, when we get home, and grind it back out. We’re not going to give up; we’re not going to give in.”

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The Orioles (19-22) arrived in Miami as winners of three of their last four and had a chance to go over .500 for the season while taking advantage of a Marlins squad that had lost seven straight and fired their manager.

After winning the first game of the series Friday, the Orioles dropped the next two, a 13-inning, 1-0 nailbiter that included the ejection of left-hander Brian Matusz and then Sunday’s lackluster effort in which they were no-hit for 4 1/3 innings by unheralded right-hander Tom Koehler. The Orioles are 2-13 all-time against the Marlins in Miami.

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The Orioles didn’t score from the ninth inning Friday until the sixth inning Sunday, a span of 19 innings. And on Monday they face Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (6-0, 1.67 ERA), arguably the best pitcher in the American League at this time.

“It hasn’t been pretty,” said Jones, who was 3-for-15 against Miami. “It hasn’t looked pretty this series, [19] innings without a run. That’s an eternity.”

Before an announced crowd of 23,834 — which included a significant number of Orioles fans — the Marlins appeared energized after their walkoff win late Saturday night. They scored five runs in four-plus innings against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, chasing him before he could get an out in the fifth.

“I think the biggest issue was we ran into a team feeling superbly confident after a short turnaround from last night,” catcher Ryan Lavarnway said. “I don't think Miguel threw too terribly. It was a little bit of a lack of command, but I think they were just feeling real confident today.”

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Gonzalez gave up a career-high 10 hits, including a Martin Prado solo homer, and was forced to throw 96 pitches in what tied his shortest outing of the season.

“It was a tough one,” said Gonzalez (5-3). “I gave up four hard hits and all the rest they were finding the hole. It wasn't a good day for us.”

Koehler (3-3) allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings, a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Paredes, who had his 20-game, on-base streak snapped Sunday. The Orioles are just 1-15 when they fail to score at least four runs. Fourteen of their 22 losses have occurred when they have scored two runs or fewer.

“We know we’re capable of better, but we haven’t put much together offensively,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s something we’re going to have to do better and give our pitchers some breathing room.”

The Orioles had two major chances to mount a late comeback Sunday, and couldn’t. The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the seventh and eighth innings. Pinch-hitter Steve Pearce grounded into a sharp double-play grounder to end the seventh. An inning later, Chris Davis hit a run-scoring ground out to make it 5-2, but Lavarnway grounded out to end the threat.

The club’s reserve catcher, Lavarnway was just 3-for-27 heading into the at-bat and is now hitting .107 on the season. Showalter could have gone with Caleb Joseph or J.J. Hardy in that situation, but chose to stick with Lavarnway.

Joseph pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot in the ninth, leaving Hardy, who was 1-for-10 in two games against Miami and is batting .182 since coming back from a shoulder injury, on the bench.

“I wanted to give [Hardy] as much of the day [off] as I could,” Showalter said. “Ryan’s got as much pop as anybody, and J.J. hasn’t been swinging the bat real well. I also thought he could benefit from a day off [in] the field.”

Showalter said Hardy will be in the lineup Monday.

“He’s fine,” the manager said. “And now we’re trying to keep him that way.”

The lone bright spot for the Orioles was the club debut of reliever Chaz Roe, who entered in the fifth with two runners on and no outs. He retired all three batters, including two by strikeouts, and also pitched a perfect sixth inning. Matusz, who was ejected from Saturday’s game in the 12th inning, threw two scoreless innings as well.

Although the bullpen kept the Orioles in the contest, the offense sputtered again. The inconsistency has been maddening, leaving Jones to come up with a creative way to ignite the offense.

“Hitting is contagious. The only person who is really hitting the ball is Paredes,” Jones said. “So I think everybody needs to go hover around him, grab his bats and rub his bats against everybody else’s bats.”

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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