BALTIMORE (AP) — Brian Matusz had another rocky start, and the Baltimore Orioles again struggled to come up with a clutch hit. That unsightly combination added up to a 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, the fifth defeat in seven games for the skidding Orioles.
Matusz (5-9) allowed five runs and a career-high 13 hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander has lost each of his last four
starts, failing to get out of the sixth inning in each outing.
Against the Angels, Matusz kept the damage to a minimum through five innings, yielding only three runs despite giving up 11 hits.
In the sixth, however, Maicer Izturis led off with a single before Peter Bourjos chased Matusz with a shot to left.
“I was fighting all the way through to stay in that game, and that was a killer in the sixth there,” Matusz said. “It was a 3-2
changeup that I just tried to throw over the plate and it ended up being up and out over the plate and Peter hit it out. That was tough. I’ve got to work down the zone a little bit better.”
That has been the common denominator in his last four starts.
“Just command. Command up,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Steve Pearce and Wilson Betemit homered for Baltimore, but the Orioles went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and are 2 for 41 in that situation in their past eight games.
“You have to take the positive out of it,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “We keep getting ourselves into position; we just need to hit. We’ve left some guys on base, we had the opportunity to score more runs, and we didn’t. But we had the opportunity. We have to bear down, get in scoring position and get that hit. It’s not easy.”
Albert Pujols homered in his Camden Yards debut, C.J. Wilson allowed one run in seven innings, and Los Angeles had a season-high 17 hits — including three apiece by Howie Kendrick and John Hester.
In addition to Bourjos and Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Hester connected for the Angels, who have won 12 of 16 overall and 12 of their last 13 road games. The four home runs were a season high.
“No doubt, we drove the ball tonight,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “Home runs are a big part of our offense.”
Pujols doubled and hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth inning off Matusz. Pujols has now homered in 33 ballparks off 282 different pitchers.
Wilson (9-4) gave up six hits, struck out two and walked two to improve to 5-0 in seven starts since May 18. The left-hander has a 1.30 ERA over that span.
Pujols hit his team-high 18th double with two outs in the first inning but was stranded. In the second, Los Angeles had runners at second and third with two outs before Hester hit a fly ball to the warning track in left.
The Angels broke through in the third, going up 1-0 when Mike Trout led off with a double and scored on a single by Torii Hunter.
In the Los Angeles fourth, Erick Aybar inexplicably tried to score from first on a two-out single to center by Hester and didn’t get near the plate before being tagged out by Matt Wieters.
“We swung the bats well early on, had a lot of hits,” Scioscia said. “Not as much to show for it.”
After going hitless over the first three innings, Baltimore used two singles and a stolen base to put runners at the corners with one out in the fourth. The next two batters, however, failed to hit the ball out of the infield.
In the fifth, Pujols homered into the inviting left-field seats after Hunter singled. Pearce connected in the bottom half, the first homer off Wilson in eight starts since May 12, but Baltimore couldn’t add on after getting runners to second and third with one out.
Bourjos chased Matusz in the sixth with a two-run drive, and Trumbo hit a shot in the seventh off Tommy Hunter that traveled an estimated 448 feet.
Hester homered off Kevin Gregg in the eighth, and Betemit connected with a man on against Jason Isringhausen in the bottom half.
NOTES: Pujols has 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 38 games since May 15. … Jones stole third base in the fourth inning, Baltimore’s first steal in 18 games since June 5. … In the series finale Wednesday, the Angels will send Jered Weaver (7-1) to the mound and the Orioles will start Jason Hammel, who’s 4-0 at home and 8-2 overall. … Los Angeles is 35-19 since a 6-14 start. … Aybar extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)