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Orioles bullpen tagged with rare loss in entertaining 7-5 defeat to Athletics, ending three-game winning streak

On an afternoon when the unexpected manifested itself often, perhaps the biggest surprise of all was made more so by the fact that it’s happened so infrequently this season: the Orioles bullpen yielded.

One of the game’s best relief corps relied on three of its best arms in a back-and-forth game Sunday at Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum, yet the Orioles still came away with a 7-5 loss to the Athletics that denied them a three-game sweep in gut-wrenching fashion.

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With a 5-5 game in the eighth inning and a runner on second base, Oakland center fielder Ramón Laureano leapt at the wall to catch a drive from DJ Stewart to end the inning. In the home half of that inning, the Orioles (13-15) called on Travis Lakins Sr., who had allowed two hits and no runs in eight innings this season.

Lakins allowed two hits Sunday — a two-out single and a towering home run by Laureano that eventually proved the difference in a topsy-turvy matinee.

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Instead of pinning the defeat on the rare runs allowed by Paul Fry and Lakins out of the bullpen, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde instead focused on the positives in what was a successful first half of the Orioles’ west coast swing.

“Not jarring at all,” Hyde said. “It’s going to happen. ... I thought they all threw the ball well. I was happy with how we matched up, and it just didn’t happen today.

“Credit goes to them. I’m really proud of how our team played this series. I thought our at-bats today were really good against some good pitching, up and down the order. Super competitive, taking walks, getting big hits in big spots against a good team. Taking this as a positive even though this is a tough loss. Besides the one inning where we didn’t catch the ball very well, I thought we played well all series.”

Oakland struck first by scoring twice in a first inning that featured the Orioles making two throwing errors on the same play, but Freddy Galvis scored Pedro Severino with a single in the second inning. Austin Hays tied the game at 2 in the third with his fourth home run of the season — all coming against Oakland in the past eight games.

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A two-run home run by Matt Olson in the third inning gave Oakland a 4-2 lead, but that was erased when Mancini singled to score two with two outs in the fifth. Another two-out single by Mancini gave the Orioles a brief 5-4 advantage in the seventh before they lost the lead immediately and somewhat bizarrely.

Jed Lowrie hit an infield single to second base that scored Matt Chapman from second base after Mancini couldn’t collect the ball from his glove to make the throw home. That was the first run allowed in 11 appearances for Fry, who entered the game with a 0.90 ERA.

Still, even after Laureano’s eighth-inning heroics, the Orioles had two reach on a pinch-hit double by Rio Ruiz and a rare walk by Hays. Closer Lou Trivino retired Mancini on a diving catch by left fielder Matt Canha and Maikel Franco on a ground out to first to strand them there.

“I think you’ve got to give credit to them and how they played defense the last couple innings,” Hyde said. “Laureano’s catch, obviously, was spectacular. Canha there with the huge play. That ball gets by him, we’re scoring runs there in the ninth inning. So, credit them for getting some big hits in some big spots, as well as making the plays defensively. Really nice plays that didn’t allow us to score there.”

Said Hays: “We had our opportunities. DJ put a great swing on that ball on that play Laureano made, that’s going to be the No. 1 play tonight on ESPN probably, then Canha made two great sliding, diving catches on just crushed line drives with runners on base. We had our opportunities. We did all we could do — put great swings on good pitches to hit and we just didn’t get the results we wanted late. But that was a great baseball game.”

Fastballs foil Zimmermann again

The errors didn’t help Orioles left-hander Bruce Zimmermann’s cause Sunday, but neither did his fastball location. At .450, he entered the start with the highest batting average allowed off his four-seam fastball among pitchers who have thrown at least 100, and Oakland hit well when he was around the zone with it Sunday.

Of the seven balls put in play on his fastball, Oakland had four singles and Olson’s two-run home run.

Zimmermann battled, though, and left with two outs in the fifth inning with two runners on. Adam Plutko stranded them, meaning Zimmermann allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits with a pair of walks, two hit batters and four strikeouts. His ERA sits at 5.40 after six starts, and he hasn’t finished five innings in each of the past three.

“He did compete,” Hyde said. “He did go into the fifth inning against the Oakland A’s, on the road. Kept us in the game. Plutko kept us right there also. But just the fastball command for me wasn’t where it should be or where it has been early on in the season. I thought he threw some nice secondary pitches but being able to locate your fastball to both sides against good lineups is important.”

ORIOLES@MARINERS

Monday, 10:10 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM

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