NEW YORK -- Following Friday's loss, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis stood at his locker, exuding confidence in where his club was and preaching the importance of forgetting the tough defeat and looking forward to tomorrow.
But Saturday brought no solace for a backsliding Baltimore club which squandered starter Scott Feldman's best start of the season in dropping the series with a 2-0 loss to the Yankees. The division defeat, in front of 42,836 at Yankee Stadium, is the O's seventh loss in their last 12 series and moves them to fourth place -- behind New York -- for just the second time this season.
"I think we're all frustrated here," shortstop J.J. Hardy said in an unusually sullen and sparse visiting clubhouse, "But at the same time, we know we have to come back tomorrow and play good.
"We don't have long. We don't have a whole lot left. The back's kind of up against the wall. We need to start playing good baseball."
An Orioles club that entered the day four games back in the American League Wild Card standings can't seem to get clicking on all cylinders, with Feldman's gem erased by an offense stonewalled by Yankees righty Ivan Nova's shutout, the sixth time Baltimore has been held scoreless this season. The Orioles (71-63) are eight games over .500, the slimmest margin since July 10 and are 18-20 since the All-Star break, with losses in four of five games and 11 of their last 17.
"We still have the opportunity," catcher Matt Wieters said of following up last year's run to the AL Division Series with another trip to the postseason. "We're still playing the same teams that are fighting for the playoffs like we are. We know we need to start playing better and we need to win games. There's a little bit of urgency to where we just need to get going. We know we're still in it. It's just a matter of putting together a good run at the end of the year."
On the heels of a dreadful four-inning effort for starter Miguel Gonzalez, in which the O's offense scored five runs off Yankees ace CC Sabathia, Feldman gave his club exactly what it needed in a sparkling one-run outing over seven innings. But the bats couldn't deliver, held to a mere three singles by Nova, as the high-powered Orioles offense continued an erratic second half.
"It's very easy to sit in the dugout or the stands and say, 'Why aren't we doing [more],?" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of his club's approach against Nova, who turned in his second career complete game, both of which have come against the Orioles. "The guy's got a 2.9-something ERA in the American League East. It's impressive. We knew it was going to be a challenge today, and Scotty matched him for the most part."
Feldman put the O's in a deficit nine pitches into the game on a pair of doubles from Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano, but kept New York in check after that. The right-hander, acquired in a July trade from the Cubs, didn't allow another hit until Lyle Overbay's leadoff fifth-inning single, and the Yankees put runners on the corners with Gardner's one-out hit into left field. But Feldman held firm, getting Derek Jeter to ground into an inning-ending double play to keep the O's deficit at one.
Orioles outfielders Nate McLouth and Adam Jones got crossed up on Curtis Granderson's fly ball, which dropped in for a two-out double in the bottom of the sixth, and Feldman walked Mark Reynolds to bring pitching coach Bill Castro to the mound. With bullpen activity going, Feldman got Ichiro Suzuki to fly out to strand the pair.
"[I've] been working with some stuff with Billy in the bullpen in between starts, just felt like, mechanically, things were a little better today," said Feldman, who used a double-play ball to strand another pair of runners in the seventh. "I've been kind of fighting them for the last couple [games], and command was better as a result of that, I think."
Feldman, who has allowed two or fewer runs in five consecutive starts, exited the 111-pitch outing allowing six hits and a walk and striking out five.
The Orioles' best chance to score was in the second inning, after putting runners on first and second with no outs, but they couldn't deliver as Markakis bounced into a double play and Hardy flied out to end the inning. Wieters' single, which came after Nova hit Jones with a pitch, was the Orioles' only hit off Nova until Manny Machado's two-out sixth-inning single. Machado's hit brought up slugger Chris Davis, who struck out.
""Good fastball, sharp curveball. He was hitting his spots pretty good," Hardy said of Nova, who erased his leadoff walk in the eighth with a double-play ball. "He was tough."
The Yankees gave Nova an insurance run with Cano's solo shot off lefty reliever Troy Patton in the eighth, and Nova completed the shutout by pitching around a leadoff single by McLouth in the ninth.
"He was spectacular," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said of Nova, who is undefeated over his last six starts. "You couldn't ask for him to do anything more. Baltimore's got a great team, and he was able to shut them down, which is exactly what we needed at this point."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.