Huff's cycle not enough to beat Angels
After big comeback, Orioles give up four unanswered scores
BALTIMORE -- History wasn't enough.
The Orioles let the third cycle in team history and one of their biggest comebacks of the year go for naught Friday night, when the Angels scored four unanswered runs and earned a 9-7 win. Aubrey Huff hit for the cycle in four at-bats, but Howie Kendrick put the O's away with a two-run home run off Chris Ray in the ninth inning.
Ray, who came on in a tie game, took his sixth loss of the season. Baltimore's relief ace is in the middle of a particularly tough month and has allowed 10 earned runs in nine June appearances. Ray is 1-3 with one save in his last nine outings, and interim manager Dave Trembley said it may be time to start using him in some different situations.
"It would be nice if we could get him out of some of the situations he's been in -- just so that maybe he could relax and he doesn't think he's going to have to be the guy all the time," Trembley said of his second-year closer. "He's young, he's got a great arm and I think his makeup is such that he's able to bounce back from these things.
"I don't like to say you get anything good out of what's happening, but he'll learn from it."
Huff tripled off Angels starter Kelvim Escobar in the second inning and doubled in the fourth, getting two of the toughest hits out of the way. He drilled a three-run home run in the fifth inning to put Baltimore (34-44) ahead, and singled in the seventh off reliever Chris Bootcheck. Huff's first three hits all went to deep right field, and his fourth blooped into center field.
"[Kevin] Millar said, 'You've got to go get that single for all the fat guys,'" Huff joked. "I've had a lot of games where I've had a single, double [and] homer. The triple is always the hardest thing for a slow guy, and I was lucky enough to get a good bounce."
Huff joined Baltimore icons Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only Orioles to hit for the cycle, but he outdid them in one respect. Both Robinson and Ripken hit their cycle on the road, and Huff became the first Baltimore player to do it at home. Opposing players had hit for the cycle four times in Baltimore, but none of them happened at Camden Yards.
The Orioles lifted Huff with a one-run lead in the seventh, and his batting slot came up again with two outs in the ninth. When he left the game, the hometown audience saluted him with a standing ovation and demanded a curtain call.
"When that flashed up there, that's pretty special," Huff said of his select company. "Today was the best I've felt up there all year. The ball looked really, really big for the first time all year. This year, the ball hasn't been as big as it was tonight."
It was also pretty large for teammate Melvin Mora, who went three-quarters of the way to the cycle himself. Batting directly behind Huff, Mora singled in the second inning, homered in the fourth and doubled in the fifth. Mora popped up in the seventh to fall a triple shy of the cycle, but he combined with Huff to drive in six of Baltimore's seven runs.
"I've never been on a team with a cycle, so it was pretty cool," said second baseman Brian Roberts. "It's so hard to do, it's unbelievable. And of course, we were aware of Melvin, too. That was really bizarre."
All of that offense helped bail out Baltimore starter Steve Trachsel, who allowed five earned runs and was gone by the end of the second inning. The right-hander got five outs and allowed nine hits, spotting Los Angeles (50-30) an early lead. Baltimore steadily chipped away, though, and Huff put himself squarely in the middle of the comeback by scoring three runs.
Trachsel has a 13.07 ERA in his last three outings and hasn't completed five innings in four of his last six starts.
"Obviously, everything that he threw tonight, they hit," Trembley said. "He tried to make some adjustments. They jumped on him early and often. I don't think it's a matter of anything other than the fact that he tried to use all his pitches and he tried to locate them. You have to give them credit. They got the hits. With his track record, for all the experience Steve has, I don't think it's a concern. I think it's a matter of getting him back to where he was -- locating and changing speeds and getting quicker outs."
The Angels scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game up, and Baltimore hit into a key double play to erase an eighth-inning rally. Then came Kendrick's two-run shot over the fence in left-center, a no-doubt shot that was the fifth home run Ray has allowed this season. True to form, the young reliever insisted that his confidence is intact.
"I just missed my spot on that one pitch. The guy took advantage of it," he said. "I just need to get consistent. I need to work better in the zone, hit my spots. When I start doing that, guys will start making bad swings."
"We all go through that at some point," added Roberts. "If you're struggling, your confidence probably isn't great. We all try to act like we're fine, but if you're going through something like that, it is hard to keep your confidence going. It just seems like nothing's going right. When you make a bad pitch, it gets hit. ... It's the same thing with hitting -- or anything else in this game."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.