BALTIMORE (AP) — Zach Britton was in control for five innings, mowing down the Cleveland Indians with little difficulty.
Then came the sixth.
Britton faced five batters and didn’t get an out. By the time he left, a two-run cushion became a one-run deficit, and the Baltimore Orioles went on to drop a 5-2 decision Monday night.
Britton (1-2) allowed only two hits through the fifth inning and took a 2-0 lead into the sixth before faltering. Jason Kipnis led off with a double and scored on a single by Nick Swisher. Carlos Santana followed with a double to put runners at second and third, and after former Oriole Mark Reynolds received an intentional walk, Michael Brantley grounded a two-run single up the middle to chase Britton.
“Just elevated some balls, lost his command,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I thought he pitched well for five innings, but different stuff showed up there in the sixth.”
Britton couldn’t argue with that assessment.
“Early in the game I was able to make pitches with guys on base, executing a little bit better,” he said. “I think I was trying to do too much after that leadoff double and things kind of escalated right there.”
Brantley iced it in the eighth with his fifth homer after a leadoff single by Reynolds.
Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters homered for the Orioles, who have lost four straight.
Swisher had two hits and scored a run for the Indians, and Reynolds went 1 for 2 with two walks. The victory improved Cleveland’s record against the AL East to 7-17 and provided an uplifting start to an 11-game road trip.
Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4) allowed two runs in 5 1-3 innings before Rich Hill, Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith combined for 2 2-3 innings of hitless relief. Vinnie Pestano wrapped it up by working the ninth for his fourth save.
“Our bullpen was phenomenal,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Hill came in with a 7.58 ERA, but retired all three batters he faced.
“When Rich Hill pitches like that, it complements our whole bullpen,” Francona said. “He’s thrown the ball pretty good the last few times out. Getting him on a roll will really help our bullpen.”
Baltimore’s bullpen, on the other hand, couldn’t contain the Indians. Brantley homered in the eighth off Darren O’Day.
“The pitch was middle-inside, kind of down,” Brantley said. “I was able to get a good swing on it. I just stayed through it the best I could. At the time, it was a big swing, and the pitching staff … came in and closed the door.”
After being swept in a three-game series in Toronto, the Orioles hoped a return to Camden Yards would reverse their slide. But their only offense came on two swings of the bat.
After Markakis put Baltimore up 1-0 in the first inning with his eighth home run, the Orioles left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two runners in the third.
Wieters led off the fourth with his 10th home run to end an 0-for-13 skid and make it 2-0.
NOTES: Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will see a specialist Tuesday because of lingering pain in his forearm. … The Orioles optioned RHP Freddy Garcia to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for rookie Kevin Gausman, who was added to the bullpen. Garcia can refuse the assignment and become a free agent. Gausman is a candidate to start Friday against the Yankees. … Cleveland recalled LHP T.J. House from Triple-A Columbus and optioned RHP Carlos Carrasco to the same minor league club. … Francona said SS Asdrubal Cabrera (right quad strain) has been taking grounders and running the bases, and could soon be activated from the DL. … Cleveland closer Chris Perez (rotator cuff) is expected to make another rehab appearance in the minors before the Indians consider activating him. … Baltimore’s Ryan Flaherty had two hits and is 10 for 22 in his last six games. … Baltimore’s Chris Tillman (8-2) and Cleveland’s Justin Masterson (9-5), the winningest pitchers on their respective teams, square off Tuesday night. … Kipnis has reached base in 26 straight games.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)