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BAL@TOR: Wieters' single puts the O's on the board

TORONTO -- If the problem Tuesday night was the timeliness of the O's hitting, the problem Wednesday was its complete disappearance.

The team struggled to even scratch the surface against tough Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero, who held the Orioles to three hits over eight innings as they fell for the second straight night to the Blue Jays, 4-1.

There were a lot of similarities between Tuesday and Wednesday. Both nights the Orioles had good starting pitching. Both nights they lost on home runs. And both nights they struggled to piece together the hits they needed to even gain a lead.

"That happens when you face a really good pitcher. We weren't able to put much together until late in the game," manager Buck Showalter said.

For as well as Romero pitched, Orioles starter Jake Arrieta turned in a solid performance of his own. He left after 6 2/3 innings, surrendering nine hits and three earned runs while striking out five.

"Jake pitched well enough to win the ballgame tonight," Showalter said. "I'm proud of him. I'm not going to talk about a pitch here and a pitch there. He made a lot of really good pitches to good hitters."

There is no doubt Arrieta deserved a better outcome Wednesday night, as he tossed his third consecutive quality start and fourth in his last five outings.

He operated in the strike zone all night, but when he worked himself into jams in the first, third and sixth innings, he consistently managed to tiptoe his way out.

"I had pretty much everything working. I think it was the third inning where I had a guy on third base, one out. Had two quality sequences to two good hitters, and then I kept us in the game," Arrieta said.

It was indeed the third inning when Arrieta allowed three baserunners on a pair of singles and an intentional walk, but he struck out both Jose Bautista and Juan Rivera to work his way out of the frame.

That came not long after an early tightrope walk in the first, when he allowed consecutive singles to Adam Lind and Rivera with two out, but induced a weak groundball from J.P. Arencibia to end the threat.

"I attacked hitters for the most part really well. A consequence of that was a few base hits," Arrieta said. "I was keeping guys off base for the most part, and when guys did get on base I was able to bear down and get a strikeout here or there, or get a groundball."

Of course, another consequence were the three home runs, which the Blue Jays used for all of their offense Wednesday.

Arrieta watched the fifth pitch he threw in the ballgame leave the yard off the bat of leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar, creating an early deficit. Then Rivera took a 1-1 changeup deep in the sixth as the Blue Jays pushed their lead to two.

Arrieta came back out for the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced on four pitches. But he walked Bautista behind them, and with the left-handed hitting Lind on deck, Arrieta was lifted in favor of left-hander Clay Rapada.

The move backfired, as Lind went deep to right-center off Rapada to push the lead to 4-0. It was the second time in as many nights the Orioles watched Lind sink their hopes with a long ball.

"There's not much better in the league in left-on-left situations than Rapada -- but he's human," Showalter said.

The Baltimore hitters, meanwhile, struggled all night with Romero, who didn't allow a man past second base through eight innings. The Orioles didn't even manage a baserunner until the fourth, when they put men on first and second with nobody out. But Adam Jones struck out and Vladimir Guerrero hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

That was the last time the Orioles would challenge Romero, who allowed single hits in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but nothing more as he struck out two batters in each frame to prevent the Orioles from rallying.

"He had three pitches working solidly for him. It's the old thing. One pitch to compete, two to win and three to dominate. And he dominated," Showalter said. "Although it's tough to do, you have to tip your hat to him. He was pretty good."

Romero exited in the ninth after tying a career high with 12 strikeouts, which was the most by one pitcher in a game against the Orioles this season.

"It's one of those nights where I felt like I had a good curveball going, a good changeup going, and I could locate my fastball wherever I wanted," Romero said. "These days don't come very often, and when you're feeling good you definitely have to take full advantage of it."

The Orioles did show brief signs of life in the ninth, as Nick Markakis and Jones led off the frame with walks off of Romero, who was quickly relieved by Frank Francisco. Matt Wieters scored Markakis with a single to right off of Francisco, but Derrek Lee grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

"We were one swing away," Jones said. "We've got to come with a better plan. [Romero] is in our division. He's had six or seven starts against us since I've been here. We can do better. We've got a good team. We can do better, I know that. We've got to just take a step back and get better." Comments