For 106 pitches tonight, Jeremy Guthrie threw the ball pretty much where he wanted to. He outlasted his former teammate and close friend, Erik Bedard, and took a three-hit shutout bid into the eighth inning.
But on one pitch, it all came crashing down. Guthrie lost his shutout, the Orioles lost their lead and any hopes of breaking a losing streak were dashed in the most agonizing of ways.
Two batters after an error assessed to the Orioles starter prolonged the inning, Justin Smoak launched Guthrie's changeup deep into the right-field seats, the three-run homer powering the Seattle Mariners to a 3-2 victory in front of an announced 11,962, the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history.
"I was ready to keep throwing," Guthrie said. "I should be out there finishing that game off."
Instead, he was trying to digest the Orioles' latest grueling loss, their fifth straight defeat, a streak that came after they had won five in a row. The Orioles (24-29) will try to avoid an 0-6 road trip Wednesday afternoon with Brian Matusz making his 2011 big league debut opposite Mariners rookie phenom Michael Pineda.
"I'm not going to sit around and say woe is me and pity [the] world that everybody lives in looking for a sympathetic ear," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Nobody cares. Play better."
The talk in a sullen clubhouse focused on Guthrie's 0-1 changeup that Smoak squared up for his eighth home run of the season.
"He probably made two or three mistakes throughout the course of the game, and that's incredible," catcher Matt Wieters said. "Unfortunately, one of the mistakes left the ballpark for a three-run homer. It was just a changeup that he missed middle-middle. He located so well all night. It was just one of those pitches where you make that mistake, as soon as you throw it, you want it back."
However, Showalter was more frustrated with several other situations that had happened earlier in the game, preventing the Orioles from building a bigger lead and Guthrie from enjoying a larger margin for error in his pitching duel with Bedard, who lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Luke Scott was thrown out trying to advance from second to third on Nolan Reimold's single with one out in the fifth inning. Scott got a terrible read on the ball, decided to run anyway and was thrown out by Mariners left fielder Carlos Peguero, drawing a well-deserved lecture from Showalter.
"It's a situation where the right thing to do was probably to just go back to second, but I saw the ball hit the ground and just took off for third," Scott said. "Tough play, tough read. That's how it goes in this game."
The Orioles had men on the corners and one out against Bedard in the sixth and managed to score only one run on Nick Markakis' double-play ball. That broke a 20-inning scoreless streak for Bedard, who was facing his former club for the third time.
After Wieters' solo homer -- his fifth of the season and his first in May on the final day of the month -- to start the seventh, the Orioles loaded the bases as Scott drew a walk off Bedard and another former Oriole, Chris Ray, entered and walked Nolan Reimold and allowed a single to J.J. Hardy to load the bases.
But with the bases loaded and one out, Robert Andino flied to shallow right and Ray threw a high fastball past Adam Jones.
With the way Guthrie was pitching at the time, it didn't appear that the Orioles' latest missed opportunity on this road trip would matter. Through seven innings, the right-hander had allowed just three singles while striking out eight.
"That's probably as best as I've seen him throw the ball in a long time," Wieters said.
He started the eighth by retiring Luis Rodriguez and Peguero on fly outs to center field. Ichiro Suzuki hit a hard grounder that was corralled by a lunging Scott at first base. However, Scott's hard throw to first glanced off Guthrie's glove to prolong the inning.
Though Guthrie was credited with an error, Scott took the blame for the play, saying, "I led him maybe two or three inches too far."
Guthrie is easily the Orioles' best-fielding pitcher and one of the better ones in the league. On the play, he had to stretch across his body and catch a hard throw while engaged in a footrace to the bag with the speedy Suzuki.
"Tough throw," he said. "I think you guys know. You've watched me play. I don't think you've ever seen me drop a ball that's thrown to me. It's unfortunate."
Brendan Ryan followed the error with a bloop single to right, setting the stage for Smoak to deliver the Orioles' latest crushing loss.
"Today, Guthrie was just spotting pitches in and out. He was just nasty," Ryan said. "It happened so fast. I'm sure he's over there not believing that just happened. And we're thinking the same thing. But we didn't give up and we got the 'W'. That was something else."