Orioles can't find way to contain Rangers
Matusz roughed up in dropping his fourth straight
ARLINGTON -- Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz hasn't done much losing. Two seasons of three losses each at the University of San Diego. Two losses in his junior season for the Toreros, before being drafted fourth overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Two losses in two Minor League stops in 2009, never losing consecutive decisions in 19 starts.
And last year's run in August and September, when he went 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA for the Orioles.
Of course being a part of this year's Baltimore team is providing a chance to find out all about losing. And the bug has hit the 23-year-old rookie. It hit him in the gut on Thursday, as Matusz suffered through the shortest start of his young career, going 2 1/3 innings in a 13-7 loss to Texas at Rangers Ballpark.
Matusz has lost four straight decisions, and at 2-4, will lose the most games for any team at any point in his baseball career. The Orioles are now 13-29, and are a season-worst 16 games under .500 after four pitchers gave up 20 hits to the Rangers, a season high. Matusz gave up eight hits.
"He's not Warren Spahn yet, he's not Sandy Koufax," manager Dave Trembley said. "He's a young guy that's learning. He'll take something from this and the next time he faces them you'll see a much better outing."
Matusz, whose previous shortest start was 2 2/3 innings against Toronto last season in his brief stint in the Majors, allowed two home runs and seven earned runs. The crushing blow was a two-out, three-run home run to Nelson Cruz to fall behind 4-0 in the bottom of the first. Matusz got behind in the count 2-0 and then threw a changeup that Cruz swatted over the left-field fence.
Matusz said he felt great warming up before the game, but walked Elvis Andrus to start the bottom of the first and said he never got in a groove from that point on.
"It was one of those nights my stuff was flat," Matusz said. "I wasn't able to get on top of the ball. I was out of my element early. I wasn't getting good downward action or movement and my changeup wasn't down."
It's the second time in three starts that Matusz hasn't made it out of the fourth inning -- he went 3 2/3 innings in a 6-0 loss to Minnesota on May 9. He allowed a career-high six runs in that game. He bounced back with seven shutout innings against Cleveland last Saturday.
"I broke it down and realized what I was doing wrong," Matusz said, when asked what he did between his starts against the Twins and Indians. "I learned a lot today. I talked to the guys and figured out things I wasn't doing mechanically."
The Orioles did pound Rangers starter Scott Feldman for 12 hits, but managed to score three runs, all in the top of the second. They pulled within 4-3 in that inning as Corey Patterson had a two-run double and Ty Wigginton an RBI single.
Matusz gave the Rangers their cushion back in the bottom of the second, as Vladimir Guerrero hit a towering two-run home run to left field for a 6-3 lead. Matusz had allowed two home runs in 47 1/3 innings entering his ninth start of the season.
The disappointment for the offense came in not giving Feldman the same fate as Matusz, an early exit. The Orioles let a struggling Feldman, with his awful 5.89 ERA, off the hook in the top of the first when they loaded the bases and Matt Wieters grounded out weakly to first base.
After getting three runs in the second, the Orioles left two men on in the third. Then in the fifth, Luke Scott had an RBI double to cut the Rangers' lead to 8-4. But with two men on and none out, Adam Jones, Luis Montanez and Cesar Izturis went down in order.
"We got the hits," Patterson said, "But not the timely hits. We just didn't do enough tonight."
The Orioles had one last chance to get back in the game in the top of the eighth, as Rangers relievers Dustin Nippert and Darren Oliver combined to load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. Miguel Tejada grounded into a fielder's choice to score Izturis to make it 8-5. Scott then struck out to end the threat.
The Rangers scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 13-5 lead, the big blow a three-run home run by catcher Matt Treanor off Orioles reliever Alberto Castillo.
The Orioles did cut the lead to 13-7 on an RBI double by Jones and a bases-loaded walk to Nick Markakis, forcing the Rangers to go to closer Neftali Feliz. With the bases loaded, Feliz got Tejada to pop out to first base to end the game.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.