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05/24/08 6:15 PM ET

Several O's regulars get night off

Trembley shakes up lineup to spark offense, offer mental break

ST. PETERSBURG -- After dropping their third straight game Friday night, several Orioles left Tropicana Field knowing Saturday would bring a much-needed mental break.

Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Ramon Hernandez were among the O's regulars missing from Saturday night's lineup -- a move manager Dave Trembley said was necessary to help "break the routine" for the slumping club.

"Sometimes, you just got to mix it up. That's all I'm doing is mixing it up," Trembley said. "It's never any one thing, it's never any one guy, it's a combination of things. I think a lot of times [when] you keep doing things the same, you got to break the routine. You just got to break it, try to get out of it somehow."

Trembley said he spoke with most of the players involved Friday night, and several more on Saturday afternoon to go over the decision.

Markakis is 3-for-15 in his past four games and has a team-high 47 strikeouts, while Hernandez is barely batting over the Mendoza line, with a .209 average. Roberts hit in a team-high 11 games from April 20-May 1, but has cooled off considerably, and has been hitless since Tuesday's 4-2 loss vs. Oakland.

"I don't think it's wise to keep putting guys to the wall, and put them in situations when they are struggling," Trembley said. "We got to give someone else an opportunity."

That opportunity will fall squarely on the shoulders of Freddie Bynum, Jay Payton and Guillermo Quiroz -- all inserted into Saturday's lineup in an effort to spark the listless offense.

After several tough losses, any offensive change should be a positive one for the O's. Baltimore was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Friday night and hasn't homered in 28 1/3 innings. Additionally, in the Orioles' 23 losses, they have only managed to score an average of two runs per game, and are among the American League's bottom two teams in batting average (.245).

Fortunately, the 162-game season isn't decided over a several-week span. Prior to dropping two of three games to the Yankees earlier in the week, the O's had won three consecutive series off a formula of good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting.

Entering Saturday's game, the Orioles will strive to get the latter back and get back on track in a tough American League East. The O's will play 15 of their next 18 games against AL East foes, and need to be operating on all cylinders to stay competitive.

"We've been in positions to win a lot of games, but we haven't won because things haven't worked out for us," Trembley said. "You know, eventually those things will turn in our favor, so just keep doing what we can do to help the team.

"We are going to be in this thing throughout the season. We are going to play hard and compete and we are going to get better."

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.