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Gausman battered in Orioles' ugly 10-1 loss to Pirates; McCutchen has eight RBIs

Even though Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman will have plenty to build on going into 2018 after his strong second half of the season, his start Tuesday night — likely his last in 2017 — was a reminder of the struggles that followed him constantly before the All-Star break.

Gausman's evening ended early in an ugly 10-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of the Orioles' two-game interleague series at PNC Park, as the right-hander lasted just four innings and allowed six runs, his most in his past 13 starts.

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Gausman entered the game with a 2.26 ERA over that stretch, holding hitters to a .225 batting average. But on Tuesday, Gausman was haunted by a familiar foil, his inability to get hitters out when ahead in the count with two strikes.

"Got guys, 0-2, 1-2 a lot and I ended up walking some guys that I had 0-2," Gausman said. "That's the frustrating part," he said.

Ex-Pirate Pedro Álvarez: "When you leave a team, you remember the good memories you had with your teammates.”

If this is how Gausman's roller-coaster 2017 season ends, Tuesday's outing definitely left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Not very good all around," Gausman said of his season. "Didn't go deep into ballgames. Not many quality starts. Obviously, I'm very frustrated. And with the season I had last year and obviously starting Opening Day. I haven't been a guy that should have gotten that right this year. … I feel like I've been throwing the ball well, so that's what makes it even more frustrating."

Meanwhile, the Orioles (75-83) have taken a September swoon, losing 15 of their last 19 games dating to Sept. 7. Tuesday's loss dropped them into a tie for last place in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The most damaging blow to Gausman on Tuesday night — Andrew McCutchen's two-out grand slam in the second inning that put the Pirates up 6-0 — came on an ill-placed 2-1 fastball, but it was the at-bats before McCutchen's slam that set up the damage.

Four rookies started on Tuesday night for the Orioles in Pittsburgh.

"That's the frustrating part," Gausman said. "I didn't give up very many hard-hit balls except for the two that McCutchen hit. That was the difference obviously. Pretty frustrating. Feeling like I've been getting in a groove lately, but to go out there and only go four innings, not very good."

With a runner on first and two outs in the inning, Gausman was ahead of leadoff hitter Adam Frazier 1-2 before allowing a double that fell fair just inside the left-field line on the seventh pitch of the at-bat to put runners at second and third. Gausman then loaded the bases by walking Starling Marte after working ahead of him 0-2 in a seven-pitch plate appearance.

"Yeah, threw the pitch I wanted to throw [to Frazier]," Gausman said. "Got weak contact, but it was a pop fly that kind of dropped in there. Marte had a great at bat against me. Threw a great pitch 3-2 that he kind of spit on. Obviously, when you get into holes like that, it's kind of tough to stop the bleeding."

That left little room for error for Gausman against McCutchen, and he made a big mistake with a belt-high, 95-mph fastball that McCutchen sent into the right-center-field stands of PNC Park. It was McCutchen's first career grand slam in 1,342 major league games.

McCutchen put the Pirates up 1-0 three batters into the bottom of the first with an RBI double that came after Gausman was ahead 0-2, scoring Marte, who singled and moved to third on Gausman's errant pickoff throw. Josh Bell followed with a double to put the Pirates up 2-0 as three of the first four batters Gausman faced reached base.

"I don't want to oversimplify," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Gausman's performance. "There's a lot of things that go into pitching well. It's not that simple. ... But if you ask me one thing, that's really what he grasped for was command of the fastball and everything else came into play. It can be good that he knows what he's got to do to be successful. … Just because the results are there sometimes, there are some things you get away with that you know you're going to pay the price for down the road if you don't straighten it out."

With a three-run homer off Jimmy Yacabonis in the sixth inning, McCutchen finished with eight RBIs on the night, becoming the first Pirates player with that many in a game since Jason Bay in 2004.

"I definitely want to be out there for the Tampa series for sure.”

Davis homers

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First baseman Chris Davis' homer off Pirates starter Trevor Williams in the sixth inning was the Orioles' only run of the game.

Davis took a 1-0 fastball from Williams into the right-center-field stands for his 26th homer of the season.

With that hit, Davis improved to 6-for-17 over his past five games.

All-rookie outfield takes the field

With Trey Mancini in left, Austin Hays in center and Anthony Santander in right, the Orioles fielded an all-rookie outfield for the first time in 44 years.

According to STATS, LLC, the last time the Orioles' starting outing was all rookies was Sept. 27, 1973, when Al Bumbry, Rich Coggins and Jim Fuller started against the Detroit Tigers.

"It's definitely a great thing, a great chemistry among us," Santander said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. "Just looking for the opportunity for us to start on a regular basis. Hopefully, it's soon."

The Orioles haven't announced it yet, but new safety is in the works for Oriole Park.

Ex-Oriole farmhand Brault with save

Former Orioles farmhand Steven Brault finished the game with three shutout relief innings to record his first professional save. Brault allowed two hits and struck out one.

Brault, who was dealt to the Pirates before the 2015 season as part of the trade for outfielder Travis Snider, was the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 10-5 with a 1.94 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Mancini extends streak

Left fielder Trey Mancini's fourth-inning double off Williams extended his hitting streak to 15 games, which is the major leagues' longest active hitting streak and the longest this season by a rookie.

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