BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles weren’t going to go unbeaten this season anyway, so after their first loss they turned their sights toward more realistic goals.
Derrek Lee hit his first homer with Baltimore and Vladimir Guerrero got his initial RBI, but the Orioles couldn’t muster any more offense against Justin Verlander and fell to the Detroit Tigers 7-3 Wednesday night.
Baltimore came up short in a bid to match the franchise-record 5-0 start of the 1970 squad that went on to win the World Series.
“You’re going to have those nights,” third baseman Mark Reynolds said. “I don’t think there’s been any team to go 162-0, right? So, we’ll come back (Thursday), get ready to go and hopefully come out of here with a series win.”
Baltimore opened the season with a sweep of Tampa Bay, and taking two of three from Detroit would mark a solid turnaround for a team that started 2-16 last year.
Alex Avila homered and had a career-high five RBIs, and Verlander allowed four hits over eight innings for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez also connected for Detroit, the first team this season to score more than one run against Baltimore.
Lee’s two-run homer made it 4-2 in the fourth inning. That, however, was as close as the Orioles would get.
“It felt good to square up a ball and get it over the fence,” Lee said. “But it’s kind of a moot point when you lose a game.”
The loss left Texas and Cincinnati as the only unbeaten teams in the majors.
Avila, who came in batting .100, doubled in two runs in the fourth inning, hit a two-run homer in the fifth and added an RBI single in the eighth.
Verlander (1-0) gave up three runs, struck out nine and walked two. He is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in eight career starts against Baltimore, including 4-0 at Camden Yards.
“Same thing we’ve been seeing for a while,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game.”
Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen (0-1) allowed four runs, two earned, and five hits in 3 2-3 innings. His performance raised the ERA of the starting staff from 0.69 to 1.21.
“It was tough. I just never seemed to get into any type of groove tonight,” the right-hander said. “It seemed like I went full count on almost everyone, or deep counts, so that part really hurt.”
Bergesen pitched in place of Jeremy Guthrie, who was released from the hospital Wednesday after being treated for a high fever. Guthrie hopes to rejoin the rotation Sunday against Texas.
Baltimore made only one error in its first four games, then committed two in the second inning to provide Detroit with a 2-0 lead. After second baseman Brian Roberts dropped a two-out popup to short right field, Bergesen walked Jhonny Peralta and threw wildly to second on an attempted pickoff. Avila followed with a double off the right-field scoreboard.
Prior to that, the Orioles had not trailed this season.
After Avila’s homer made it 4-0 in the fourth, Lee connected in the bottom half following a one-out walk to Nick Markakis.
Cabrera and Martinez homered in succession in the fifth inning off Josh Rupe.
Guerrero made it 6-3 with an RBI single in the sixth, but he was thrown out by Avila trying to advance on the throw to the plate.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)