Of­fense falls short in loss

Baltimore Sun - - ORI­OLES - Eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard BOX SCORE

three-run hole just five bat­ters into the game.

But by the end of the night, you couldn’t have asked more of the Ori­oles ro­ta­tion. Gal­lardo would go much deeper than he did in his pre­vi­ous start, a 11⁄ in­ning out­ing Fri­day night at Yan­kee Sta­dium that was the short­est start of his ca­reer. He righted him­self against a Blue Jays lineup full of dan­ger­ous hit­ters, re­tir­ing the fi­nal 10 bat­ters he faced.

Gal­lardo walked off the mound af­ter six in­nings hav­ing given the Ori­oles their third qual­ity start this se­ries. In­stead of the start­ing ro­ta­tion, the team’s wildly in­con­sis­tent of­fense took the blame.

“I look more at the body of work,” man­ager Buck Showal­ter said of Gal­lardo. “If you told me com­ing in that he would have held them to three over six, I’d have liked our chances. We didn’t re­ally score a lot of runs all three games [a to­tal of nine] and that’s re­ally a trib­ute to their start­ing pitch­ing as much as any­thing.”

The Ori­oles en­tered the se­ries bank­ing on left-han­der Wade Mi­ley, right-han­der Ubaldo Jimenez and Gal­lardo, all of whom have strug­gled in Ori­oles uni­forms, while Toronto sent starters with sub-3.40 ERAs — Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez — to the mound for one of the most piv­otal di­vi­sion se­ries in the reg­u­lar sea­son’s fi­nal weeks.

But the Ori­oles ro­ta­tion couldn’t be blamed for this se­ries loss — their first in three se­ries against Toronto at Cam­den Yards — as each starter recorded a qual­ity start. In­clude Kevin Gaus­man’s seven shutout in­nings Sun­day in New York and the Ori­oles starters have had a 3.12 ERA over the past four games, ex­actly what you want down the stretch.

“I was re­ally im­pressed with that, re­ally proud of them. But it’s tough. It’s kind of frus­trat­ing,” Showal­ter said of the ro­ta­tion. “We’ve got some qual­ity start­ing pitch­ing and we were in them. The tack-on runs were tough.”

Gal­lardo fell be­hind early in an ugly way. Ori­oles neme­sis Jose Bautista sent Gal­lardo’s first de­liv­ery into the left-cen­ter-field seats. And af­ter walk­ing Michael Saun­ders with two out, Gal­lardo hung a full-count slider that Rus­sell Martin parked in the first row of the right-field stands above the grounds crew shed.

TheOri­oles ro­ta­tion strug­gles in the first in­ning are ev­i­dent. Count­less times this sea­son, an Ori­oles starter has strug­gled in the first Ori­oles des­ig­nated hit­ter Pe­dro Al­varez walks past Blue Jays catcher Rus­sell Martin af­ter strik­ing out in the fourth in­ning. in­ning be­fore find­ing his foot­ing. The Ori­oles have an un­sightly 5.35 ERA in the open­ing in­ning, when they have al­lowed 25 homers.

But to Gal­lardo’s credit, he found his groove af­ter es­cap­ing a one-out bases-loaded jam in the third. Af­ter he al­lowed back-to­back sin­gles to Bautista and Josh Don­ald­son to open the in­ning — and both moved into scor­ing po­si­tion on a wild pitch — Gal­lardo struck out slug­ger Ed­win En­car­na­cion and walked Saun­ders in­ten­tion­ally with first base open.

Gal­lardo then in­duced a dou­ble-play ball to third base­man Manny Machado, who stepped on the bag and threw across the in­field to trig­ger Gal­lardo’s es­cape. Martin was the first of 10 straight bat­ters re­tired by Gal­lardo to end his night.

“It’s frus­trat­ing. It’s never easy for th­ese guys to come from be­hind, es­pe­cially in the first in­ning, giv­ing up three runs in the first in­ning,” Gal­lardo said. “But af­ter that, I was just able to put up ze­ros and make pitches when­ever I had to and get some ground balls and get out of some tough jams.”

Gal­lardo left with the Ori­oles trail­ing 3-1 and the game within reach, but his bullpen didn’t help as My­chal Givens al­lowed a run in the sev­enth and Brad Brach yielded a solo homer to Saun­ders in the eighth.

The Ori­oles didn’t have many chances against Sanchez — they were 0-for-3 against him with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion — but got a rare chance in the fifth and couldn’t break through. They ral­lied with two outs on sin­gles by Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop, an in­ning kept alive when Don­ald­son booted a grounder by Machado to third, en­abling Kim to score. Chris Davis loaded the bases with a walk, but slug­ger Mark Trumbo flied out harm­lessly to right to end the fi­nal threat.

“It’s tough, be­cause we’re chas­ing them and they take two out of the three,” Schoop said. “We’ve just got to learn from it, get a good off-day to­mor­row and come back stronger than we were. With Septem­ber com­ing in, we’ve just got to com­pete and play hard and try to win as many games as pos­si­ble.”

PA­TRICK SE­MAN­SKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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