BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles are beginning to feel the pressure of the playoff hunt.
A baserunning blunder and poor hitting in the clutch proved costly Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the White Sox. The defeat stalled Baltimore’s run at Tampa Bay for the second and final AL wild-card spot, and ended Chicago’s nine-game skid.
Adam Jones hit his 31st home run for the Orioles, who went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. A year ago, Baltimore took delight in being in the race for a postseason spot and flourished while doing so.
This season, it’s different.
“I think there are times when I think we put a little too much pressure on ourselves,” said Chris Davis, who went 0 for 3. “That’s the nature of the beast. Everybody wants to be the guy to get the big hit or score the big run. We had a lot of fun last year. We were really enjoying ourselves and enjoying the competition, and the fact that we were in the race. I think that’s something we really need to get back to.”
Down 4-1, Baltimore loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Addison Reed. After Ryan Flaherty grounded into a forceout at second base that scored a run, Chris Dickerson entered as a pinch-runner for Flaherty.
Dickerson tried to steal second on a pitch to Brian Roberts, who hit a foul pop near first base. Dickerson didn’t know where the ball went, and the blunder made him an easy out at first.
“I keep hearing, `You should have peeked, you should have peeked.’ It’s not something I’ve ever done stealing bases,” Dickerson said. “For me, it’s the first two steps I’m getting down and then I’m looking, my eyes are up looking at the reaction of the second baseman.”
When he got to second base, shortstop Alexei Ramirez pretended the ball was in play, and Dickerson took the bait.
“(The ball) ended up in the one place where you’re not going to get that awareness reaction from the infielders, especially Ramirez with the deke,” Dickerson said. “That pretty much got me. I assumed there was a groundball hit behind me and he was going to first because I was already there.”
Rookie Andre Rienzo pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning and Adam Dunn homered for the White Sox. Reed wound up with his 37th save.
Dayan Viciedo had two hits and an RBI for the White Sox, who averted a four-game sweep and put a positive finish on a terrible road trip that included three defeats apiece in Boston and Yankee Stadium.
Only eight teams in major league history have gone winless on a road trip of at least 10 games.
Chicago (57-85) also avoided falling 30 games under .500 for the first time since ending the 1976 season at 64-97.
Making his eighth big league start, Rienzo (2-1) gave up one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. The Brazilian native walked two and struck out four in the second-longest outing since being summoned from the minors on July 30.
Rienzo left after giving up a two-out single to J.J. Hardy in the seventh. Flaherty followed with a double off Matt Lindstrom, who struck out Roberts to end the threat.
Bud Norris (10-11) allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He was 4-0 as a starter for Baltimore since being acquired in a trade with Houston on July 31.
The White Sox were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Dunn hit his 31st homer after Alexei Ramirez led off with a single. The drive snapped Dunn’s 7-for-65 skid and traveled an estimated 424 feet before landing on Eutaw Street, far beyond the right-field wall.
The four runs the White Sox scored matched their total in the previous three games of the series.
NOTES: The Orioles open a four-game series against the New York Yankees on Monday night at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman starts for the O’s against CC Sabathia. … Chicago hosts the Detroit Tigers. “That’s the good news. We’re going home,” manager Robin Ventura said before Sunday’s game. … Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said OF Henry Urrutia, a Cuban defector, will not be allowed to accompany the team to Toronto next weekend because of visa issues. … Chicago went 3-4 against Baltimore this year and hasn’t won the season series since 2008. … Urrutia and RHP Mike Wright were chosen as the Orioles’ minor league players of the year. … Dunn struck out three times around his home run.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)