Right-hander Kevin Gausman was looking for a turnaround performance on Wednesday night, and he almost got it.
Gausman was overpowering for the first few innings of the Orioles' 5-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians, but a four-batter lapse in the fifth was all it would take to spoil an otherwise solid effort and send him to his seventh loss in 10 decisions before an announced 26,596 at Camden Yards.
Still, it was a big improvement over three previous starts this month in which he allowed 16 earned runs over 15 2/3 innings.
Curiously, he handled the dangerous heart of the Indians batting order just fine, but was undone in that inning by back-to-back hits at the bottom of the lineup and a two-run home run by leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor.
"It's kind of the way things have been going really throughout the whole season so far for me,'' Gausman said, "pitching well and then one inning kind of gets away from me. I had a really good feel for my fastball up and my split down. Those three hits that I gave up in a row were all fastballs trying to go up. They were up, but not higher than eye."
Maybe things could have turned out better, but he was able to bounce back and retire four of his next five batters before giving way to the bullpen.
"Kevin was good," manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought his command was better. It just looked like he was getting down the mound and was more confident. That's a good club, too, and he gave us a chance, especially the first four innings."
Gausman (3-7) left after getting two outs in the sixth inning, having given up three runs on six hits while striking out a season-high nine batters, but he had no margin for error against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (8-3).
The Cleveland right-hander struck out 10 Orioles and allowed just seven hits over six-plus innings to record his eighth victory of the year. It was the 11th time in his major league career that he struck out 10 or more hitters in a game.
Three of those hits came with no one out in the seventh inning, posing the biggest threat the Orioles would mount against Carrasco, who turned the game over at that point to former Orioles setup man Andrew Miller.
Miller got pinch hitter Joey Rickard to ground into a force at the plate before striking out Caleb Joseph and Rubén Tejada to get out of the inning without allowing any of those three inherited runners to score.
The Indians would add to their lead in the ninth on RBI singles by Lindor and Jason Kipnis, which would add an extra dimension to an already disappointing evening. Kipnis' hit accounted for the fifth run of the game, extending the Orioles' string of games giving up at least five run to 18 – just two games short of the dubious major league record held by the 1924 Philadephia Phillies.
The Orioles ended the shutout bid with one out in the bottom of the ninth when Trey Mancini singled and Jonathan Schoop drove him home with a double to right-center.
Can't stop Mancini: Though Carrasco was dominant, Mancini found a way to get a couple of hits off him, beating out a high infield chopper for the Orioles' first hit in the second inning and looped a soft single to right field in the seventh.
He also singled in the ninth off reliever Dan Otero. The 3-for-4 performance raised his batting average to .314.
Gotta have Hart: Left-hander Donnie Hart made his first appearance after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.
He came on to get out of the sixth inning, then retired the Indians in order in the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth.