Bullpen lets game get away from Orioles
Albers, Baez allow three runs combined in pivotal seventh
BOSTON -- Sitting in the visitor's dugout before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Orioles manager Dave Trembley stated the team's game plan.
"Obviously, we need to pitch better tonight with [starter Jason] Berken," Trembley said. "Play better. Pitch better."
Trembley's plan was in reference to the pounding his team took from the Sox on Tuesday night.
Berken gave the O's 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits and four walks while striking out three. And the O's offense matched that of the Red Sox early in the game. But the Baltimore bullpen faltered, and the O's fell to the Sox, 7-5, in front of 37,712.
Berken allowed two runs in the first, opening the game with a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, then issuing a two-out walk to Kevin Youkilis and an infield single to David Ortiz. Jason Bay's single off the wall to drive in Ellsbury and Youkilis gave the Sox a 2-0 lead.
"I thought after the first inning Berken settled down and pitched a very good game," Trembley said. "He gave us a chance and made some adjustments himself. You start the game off getting behind like that, and it could have really gotten ugly and gotten out of hand. So he made some adjustments and got us back in the game. It's unfortunate that the first inning has been such a rough spot for us."
"Every start, you want to go out there and start strong," Berken said. "It's tough putting your team in a 2-0 deficit right off the bat. Our lineup's good enough, we're going to score some runs. I was just trying to keep us where we were at and try to pitch deep in the game. I was able to do that for the most part. Obviously, the early struggles didn't help anything.
"[I've] got to try to limit the damage. That's something I've struggled with in the past, obviously the big innings. Obviously, you don't want to give up any runs, period. But if you do, hopefully you can just limit it to one or two, and just go from there."
Six Orioles relievers combined to work 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Danys Baez and Cla Meredith worked the longest -- two-thirds of an inning each -- with Matt Albers (2-5) taking the loss after allowing one run over one-third of an inning.
"The thing is, you're in a situation where we don't have [Kam] Mickolio," Trembley said. "He's not available, so you're going to go to Albers. You get two strikes on a lot of guys, and we let them off the hook. That's really putting it in a nutshell. We let them off the hook."
The O's got a run off Sox starter Paul Byrd, loading the bases in the second inning on walks to Matt Wieters and Luke Scott and a single to right by Ty Wigginton. Cesar Izturis grounded into a double play, scoring Wieters and cutting the Sox's lead to 2-1.
With the O's trailing, 3-1, entering the fifth, Brian Roberts opened the inning with his 50th double of the season, becoming just the fourth player in Major League history with 50 doubles in three or more seasons. Roberts joined Hall of Famers Tris Speaker (five times), Paul Waner (three), and Stan Musial (three) on the exclusive list. Roberts stole third and scored on Nolan Reimold's sacrifice fly.
The O's took the lead in the sixth, their first lead of the series, sending eight batters to the plate. With Byrd gone and Manny Delcarmen on the mound, Wieters opened the inning with a single and took second when Delcarmen couldn't handle Wigginton's grounder. Izturis' infield single loaded the bases, and a walk to Roberts pushed in a run and pushed Delcarmen to the bench. Felix Pie singled off Ramon Ramirez, scoring Wigginton, to give the O's a 4-3 lead. But that was all the damage they could do in the inning, as Reimold and Nick Markakis struck out to end the threat.
"The game came down to two phases for me," Trembley said. "Getting the third out and getting the hit. It didn't happen for us. It happened for them. They got the out in matchup situations when they needed it, and they got the big hit with [Victor] Martinez when they needed it. We had the same opportunities. It didn't happen for us. It happened for them."
Berken departed with one out in the sixth, the O's leading, 4-3, and Joey Gathright on third. Alberto Castillo came in for a one-out appearance, getting Ellsbury to ground out to first baseman Wigginton. Albers replaced Castillo on the mound, facing Dustin Pedroia, whose grounder deflected off Albers' leg, allowing the tying run to score.
Albers returned for the seventh, allowing a single to Youkilis, ending his night. Mark Hendrickson took the mound, striking out Ortiz. Baez replaced Hendrickson for the next batter, Bay, who singled to left. A walk to Mike Lowell loaded the bases for Martinez, who was pinch-hitting for George Kottaras. Martinez drove the first pitch he saw from Baez into left-center for a three-run double.
"I didn't have command," Baez said. "I didn't have very good command of my fastball, and I was behind all the time on hitters. I was trying to get people out, because I knew Victor Martinez was going to pinch-hit [for] somebody because he's really hot right now. I was trying to get him a sinker away -- and the ball wasn't sinking today -- and he made good contact almost off the wall."
The O's scratched back for a run in the ninth off Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, as Markakis led off with a single to left and took third on Wieters' single off the glove of Youkilis at first. Luke Scott's sacrifice fly cut Baltimore's deficit to 7-5. But that was all the offense the O's could muster as Wigginton popped out to end the game.
"Any time you're going into the ninth inning, your team's down, leading off, you want to get on any way you can -- walk, base hit, error," said Markakis, who went 3-for-4. "You just want to get on that base and give your team a chance to come out and score some runs. We battled there -- got some hits, got some hard-hit balls but fell short. Overall, I think we played a pretty good game. Just the end results, we didn't come out on top. That's all that matters."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.