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BAL@PIT: Pirates take the lead on a fielding error

PITTSBURGH -- Against Toronto and Washington at the start of the Baltimore's nine-game road trip, the Orioles lost their first two games, not getting an opportunity to play for a series win in the third contest.

On Wednesday, the O's had opportunities to defeat the Pirates and take the series, but a costly error gave Pittsburgh the game, 5-4, and the series victory.

The crucial play came in the fifth inning, when a two-out ground ball from Josh Harrison skipped through the legs of second baseman Blake Davis, who was making his Major League debut. Two runs scored on the error, and the Pirates took a 5-4 lead, which they never relinquished as they beat the Orioles and won the three-game series at PNC Park.

"I thought it was going to skip up and bounce up a little higher, and it kind of stayed down on me," Davis said. "I need to make that play."

Others acknowledged that the play was just one of many that have cost Baltimore lately.

"There were a lot of things we could have done today to make that not matter," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Rookie pitcher Zach Britton (6-5) took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) in six innings.

"[Davis is] one of the best defensive second basemen I've ever played with," Britton said. "That's going to happen. I'm not mad at him. I know he's frustrated, and obviously it would have been nice to have that ball, but you have to forget that and get the next guy."

Though the Orioles were down just one run after the error, they couldn't make it up in the final three innings, managing just one hit against the Pirates' bullpen.

"There were missed opportunities up and down throughout the games," first baseman Luke Scott said. "They can get credit for their bullpen doing a good job."

The Pirates took a lead in the bottom of the first when their first three hitters singled and two runs scored.

"I feel like I need to mix some more offspeed pitches to those better hitters," Britton said, "especially when they're ahead in the count, to not let them get comfortable and expect a fastball."

The Orioles tied the game with a similar inning in the third. Britton, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis began the inning with three straight singles off of Pirates starter Kevin Correia. Britton scored on Markakis' single, and Hardy scored when Adam Jones grounded out.

Scott and Mark Reynolds singled to lead off the fourth inning, and they scored on a double by Hardy, which gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead.

The Pirates responded with one run in the bottom of the inning when Andrew McCutchen doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch by Britton and scored on a groundout.

Britton induced Garrett Jones into an inning-ending double play in the fourth, protecting his lead. But he couldn't avoid the error in the fifth.

"We were gifted two runs there and we took advantage of it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Correia gave us everything he had to get through the sixth."

Britton hit another single in the sixth and was 2-for-3 on the day. Orioles pitchers have gone 7-for-15 in Interleague Play; entering Wednesday, the rest of the American League's pitchers were batting a collective .075 (9-for-120).

Markakis was 3-for-4 with two singles and a double. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a season high. During the streak, he has hit .407 (24-for-59).

"We had some good things happen on this trip," Showalter said. "We've been swinging the bats well. Guys are giving us a chance."

Players were harder pressed to look at the positive side following the loss.

"There's nothing more frustrating then working hard and giving your heart and soul to something, and not seeing the fruit from your labor," Scott said.

The Orioles return to Baltimore in last place in the AL East, following the 3-6 road trip.

"With the division that we're in, if we want to be able to compete and be on the top of that division, we've got to be able to come out here and take two of three from these teams," Britton said.

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