Leading by three runs in the eighth with one of their young hurlers cruising, the Orioles disintegrated, allowing five unanswered runs to fall to the Oakland Athletics, 7-5.
The loss dropped the Orioles to 15-33, and stopped them from claiming their third series win in 16 attempts.
They had a chance to win in the ninth, with two runners on and one out, but A's closer Andrew Bailey picked up his ninth save by getting Adam Jones to pop up and then striking out Garrett Atkins.
Starter Brad Bergesen began the eighth by allowing two singles -- matching the number of hits he had given up in his first seven innings combined.
With 93 pitches thrown and holding onto a 5-2 lead, Orioles manager Dave Trembley pulled Bergesen, who walked to the dugout to a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 26,279.
That ignited a parade of three relievers, including lefty Mark Hendrickson (1-3), who allowed both inherited runners to score and was charged with three more when Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a bases-loaded, three-run double against Cla Meredith to give the A's a 7-5 lead.
Hendrickson nearly got out of the inning with the lead intact, but pinch hitter Jake Fox hit a bouncer up the middle that took a terrible hop directly in front of sure-handed shortstop Cesar Izturis. The ball bounced away, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive.
Meredith then served up the double to the left-center gap by Kouzmanoff, the first batter he faced.
With lightning flickering continually through the middle innings, the Orioles' offense, which was without Nick Markakis (birth of child) and Luke Scott (strained shoulder), mimicked the sky above. It threatened often, but never delivered the expected downpour.
Intermittent runs seemed plenty enough for Bergesen, who withstood his own early storm before settling down. He gave up a two-run homer to Gabe Gross in the second inning and walked three of the first 11 batters he faced. But after a key -- albeit unusual -- double play in the third, Bergesen retired the next 13 A's in order until Adam Rosales singled to lead off the eighth.
Bergesen was charged with four runs on four hits and three walks in seven-plus innings. A heads up defensive play saved Bergesen from yielding more early runs. After walking the first two batters in the third, Ryan Sweeney hit a grounder to second baseman Julio Lugo.
Lugo grabbed the ball while A's baserunner Daric Barton tried to induce a rundown between first and second. Lugo smartly threw to first for the sure out and then Ty Wigginton threw to shortstop Cesar Izturis to start Barton's rundown.
Seeing that develop, lead runner Rajai Davis attempted to dart home from third. But Izturis threw to catcher Matt Wieters, who again adeptly blocked the plate, something that is becoming commonplace for the second-year backstop.
Wieters tagged Davis as he slid past, and home plate umpire Angel Campos ruled Davis out. Television replays showed that Davis' knee didn't touch home plate before Wieters made the tag.
The Orioles slowly got back into the game against Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez, who allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
They scored twice in the third on a Miguel Tejada groundout and a soft liner by Wieters, who lost control of the bat as he swung. They also picked up runs on a seeing-eye single by Tejada, an infield groundout by Lou Montanez and a bases-loaded walk by Atkins.
It looked like it could be one of those lucky nights when every good break goes the Orioles way, a rarity these days at Camden Yards.
Alas, these are the Orioles of 2010.
The ominous black cloud hovering over the ballpark spoke volumes.