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Orioles Continue To Limp Toward Break

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(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

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1057topper Orioles Continue To Limp Toward Break

BOSTON (AP) — Baltimore’s pre-All Star road trip could hardly look any worse.

After the buzz of a benches-clearing brawl one night earlier, the Orioles’ bats fell silent in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox on
Saturday night.

Baltimore managed just four hits — all singles — and dropped to 1-8 in its pre-break road trip that ends Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

“It’s a very hard stretch. Nothing’s going right,” Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “When the pitchers do a good job, we
don’t hit. When we have the hitting, we don’t have the pitching. When the bullpen does well, we don’t hit. Always something.”

And Saturday night it certainly was the hitting — or, lack of.

Facing John Lackey, who entered with a 7.47 ERA and coming off the worst start of his career, Baltimore got the first batter of the game, Hardy, to third with two outs after his leadoff single, a wild pitch and ground out, but Vladimir Guerrero bounced out weakly to end the inning. It was last runner the Orioles had to second until two outs in the seventh inning.

The Orioles, who are hitting .121 with runners in scoring position this month, fell to 14-29 away from Camden Yards, second worst road mark in the majors.

They look like they need a break.

“I don’t want to say we’re all looking forward to it — because we’re not — but maybe after the three days we can get on a roll,” Hardy said in a quiet clubhouse.

The poor offense spoiled a solid start by Alfredo Simon, making his first start since Tommy John surgery May 5, 2009. He worked out of the bullpen last season, the primary closer for much of the first half.

“He just couldn’t hold that offense off forever,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “On the other hand, I’m proud of him. He was aggressive.”

Lackey ended up going 6 2/3 shutout innings and Boston extended its winning streak to five games.

Showalter felt it was Lackey who made his hitters look weak.

“It looked like the starting pitching,” he said. “I’d have to look at the tape.”

Lackey, booed last Monday as he left the mound after allowing seven runs in 2 1-3 innings, got a standing ovation as he strode to the dugout with runners at first and second in the seventh. Daniel Bard then retired Nolan Reimold on an inning-ending popup.

Lackey (6-8) struck out seven and walked one just five days after his 9-7 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the shortest outing in his two seasons with Boston.

Simon (1-2) allowed three runs in the fifth on an RBI-double by Kevin Youkilis and a two-run double by Josh Reddick.
Youkilis added another run-scoring double in the seventh off Mark Hendrickson.

Boston maintained its one-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4.

Baltimore’s sixth straight loss came one day after a 10-3 setback in which the benches cleared twice in the eighth inning,
first after Kevin Gregg’s inside pitch to David Ortiz and then after Ortiz charged Gregg when the pitcher gestured at him as he started down the first-base line on a fly out to right field.

Both punched at each other but failed to connect Ortiz apologized Saturday “to everyone for the situation. …Even to Gregg.”

Lackey hit two batters on Saturday. Nick Markakis went directly to first after being hit in the sixth. With two outs and no runners on in the seventh, Lackey hit Derek Lee below his left hip. Plate umpire Jeff Nelson warned both benches.

Simon, a former closer making his first start since April 14, 2009, fell behind 3-0 in the fifth after retiring the first batter.
Jacoby Ellsbury then tripled, but was out at home on a hard grounder to Simon by Dustin Pedroia, who took second. After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, Youkilis doubled in the first run. Ortiz also was walked intentionally, a move that backfired when Reddick hit his two-run double.

In the seventh, Pedroia stretched his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff double and scored on Youkilis’ double.

Bard pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings, bringing his scoreless streak to 18 1/3. Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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