Save for a rocky first inning, veteran Orioles starter Matt Harvey was nearly perfect Friday night, retiring the final 16 batters he faced.
The three first-inning runs he allowed, however, were enough to do in Harvey and the Orioles in a 6-3 loss before an announced 7,155 at Camden Yards, ending their brief winning run of two straight after a season-high 19-game losing streak.
Harvey, who has been the team’s best starter since the All-Star break, largely looked like that pitcher Friday. He struck out the first two batters he faced before a two-out walk, then allowed four straight hits, including a run-scoring single by Yandy Diaz and a single by Joey Wendle that scored two more.
He picked up a third strikeout to end the inning, though, and retired every batter he faced the rest of the way with great efficiency. He threw 36 pitches in the first inning, then 51 over the next five.
“I think the stuff throughout the outing was pretty similar to what it was in the first,” Harvey said. “I just had to locate a little better, get ahead, and I was able to do that later in the game.”
But after completing six innings, Harvey felt he didn’t have much more to give, prompting manager Brandon Hyde to bring in left-hander Tanner Scott for the seventh.
“He did a great job after that first inning,” Hyde said of Harvey. “He went five scoreless following. But I think fatigue was setting in there after six.”
Scott, however, couldn’t keep the game close.
In his fourth straight outing throwing mostly sliders — he threw 23 on 26 pitches Friday and 62 of 69 overall over his past four outings — Scott hit a batter, issued a walk and allowed a three-run home run to Mike Zunino to break the game open.
“Well, he’s had some success with it the last few times, and tonight, just — tonight he got ahead of the first four hitters and gets an out, hit-by-pitch with two strikes on a slider, is ahead of Kiermaier with two strikes barely misses with a slider,” Hyde said. “So, I don’t know. Tanner can be really good at times, and tonight wasn’t his night.”
As Harvey was cutting through the Rays, the Orioles clawed back with a two-run home run by Austin Hays in the fourth inning.
The Orioles (40-87) left runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth, and eighth innings to hamper any comeback attempts, though Cedric Mullins’ two-out home run in the ninth, his 23rd of the season, was a small bit of consolation. He regained the major league hits lead with 148.
Hays heating up
After coming off the bench twice in the Orioles’ two wins over the Los Angeles Angels this week and recording hits in each game, Hays was back in the starting lineup Friday and responded with his 14th home run of the season.
The former top prospect has had an uneven season, but is batting .243 with a .715 OPS after Friday’s 2-for-4 effort.
Around the horn
>> Infielder Jorge Mateo (back) is improving, Hyde said, and could return in the next few days.
>> Right-hander Hunter Harvey (shoulder) last pitched Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk, and Hyde said they’re keeping the former top pitching prospect there to continue building his innings back up and monitoring how he recovers.
>> Third baseman Maikel Franco, who was designated for assignment Monday, cleared waivers and was granted his release.
Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
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