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John Means strikes out 8 but Orioles lose, 7-4, in sloppy series finale against Rangers

There’s no good reason why the Orioles don’t play better when John Means pitches, and his final home start of what’s been one of the best seasons for an Orioles pitcher in recent memory will go down as perhaps the most disappointing example.

The ace left-hander took a hard-luck defeat in a 7-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon before an announced 13,495 fans at Camden Yards when a double-play ball to second that would have ended the fifth inning instead didn’t produce any outs. Richie Martin didn’t cover the base from shortstop, and the Rangers eventually scored the go-ahead run.

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The Orioles defense, which didn’t do much to help their cause, and their offense, which produced little against the Rangers’ young staff, ensured it’d be a difficult afternoon.

After singling to open the seventh inning against Orioles reliever Eric Hanhold, Leody Taveras attempted to steal second base. Pedro Severino’s throw was close, and Martin held the tag as Taveras slid off the base, but he lost the ball while holding it up to show the umpire that he maintained possession. Taveras remained safe, and came around to score Texas’ fourth run.

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In the eighth, a ground ball went under second baseman Jahmai Jones’ glove for a leadoff single. Two more runs came around to score on a two-run triple by Willie Calhoun on a ground ball that scooted to the wall as neither Anthony Santander nor Ryan McKenna cut it off in the right-center gap.

“We have some youth out there and we just didn’t make a couple plays today,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Santander’s two-run home run in the fourth inning, after a walk by Austin Hays, was one of the Orioles’ handful of hits in the game. Kelvin Gutiérrez singled in the seventh, and Trey Mancini singled to begin the ninth, scoring on a home run by Severino that carried little consequence.

Means fans eight in loss

All that meant Means had another fine outing in an Orioles loss. He allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out eight — his most since the May 5 no-hitter against Seattle — in the 16th of his 25 starts in which the Orioles (50-106) scored three runs or fewer.

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Means has a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts this season. Sunday was his seventh straight allowing three runs or fewer while completing at least five innings.

“It was not a very sharp outing,” Means said. “I wasn’t getting ahead. The change-up was good early, and then I lost it late, so I threw the curveball, which already sucked as it was. I just had to grind through that one.”

Said Hyde: “I thought he really grinded through his outing. He punched a bunch of guys out. They had a lot of foul balls. A double-play ball wasn’t turned. He should have been out of that inning and potentially gone out for another inning. It really extended that fifth inning there. Unfortunately, we didn’t score many runs for him either, but I thought he really competed today.”

More honors for Mancini

Mancini, whose return from stage 3 colon cancer this season has been an inspirational aspect of an otherwise difficult Orioles season, received the Oriole Way Award from the Orioles Advocates before the game for his efforts on and off the field, and what he’s done in the community with the Trey Mancini Foundation.

Mancini, who is also the team’s nominee for the MLBPA’s Heart and Hustle Award and the Roberto Clemente Award, continued to lend his platform to causes that mean a lot to him by wearing a wristband on the field calling for fair pay and working conditions for minor league players during Sunday’s game.

Around the horn

>> Center fielder Cedric Mullins is nursing a sore hamstring, Hyde said, necessitating a second day out of the lineup. He pinch-hit and reached base on a fielder’s choice in the seventh inning, and was immediately substituted out of the game for a pinch-runner. Hyde said he hopes Monday’s day off can help make Mullins available the rest of the season.

>> Santander, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury of late, was substituted out of the game after batting in the eighth. Ryan Mountcastle took over in left field as a result, his first appearance there since the end of June. Hyde said Santander was dealing with leg soreness.

RED SOX@ORIOLES

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM

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