Big baserunning blunder in Orioles' 3-1 loss

The Orioles had a chance to either tie tonight's game in the eighth inning or put two runners in scoring position with one out.

They chose something from column C.

In case you missed it, Nick Markakis singled with one out, and Indians manager Manny Acta made a surprising pitching change, removing starter Justin Masterson and bringing in reliever Vinnie Pestano. Endy Chavez followed with a double in the left field corner, and Markakis ran through third base coach DeMarlo Hale's stop sign and got caught in a rundown.

Not good.

Markakis glanced toward left field, lowered his head and rounded third before picking up Hale's sign. He slammed on the brakes and eventually was tagged out.

It probably would have been a close play at the plate if Markakis had kept motoring. Hale intended to stop Markakis at third as Chavez pulled into second, giving Jim Thome a chance to tie the game or bring both runners home. Instead, Thome struck out to end the inning and keep the Orioles behind, 2-1.

I've heard a few people say that Hale didn't try to stop Markakis, so maybe the sign was too subtle. I can only go by what I saw on the MASN2 broadcast.

Tommy Hunter is giving the Orioles their sixth consecutive quality start as we head to the bottom of the eighth. He's still in the game, and still looking for that offensive support that I referenced earlier tonight.

Instant update: Hunter has been removed after two straight singles leading off the bottom of the eighth, the second on a ball by Asdrubal Cabrera that deflected off him for the Indians' third infield hit by my count. Hunter threw 92 pitches, the same as Masterson.

Update: The Indians loaded the bases with no outs, but they only scored once. They didn't need any more in a 3-1 victory over the Orioles, who were unable to complete the four-game sweep.

Hunter is credited with the Orioles' sixth consecutive quality start, their longest streak since May 10-15, 2011.

The Orioles went 5-3 on the road trip. They were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position tonight and stranded five runners.

Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk's Steve Johnson allowed one run and four hits in seven innings tonight against Syracuse, with one walk and seven strikeouts. He's given up two runs in his last two starts covering 13 innings.

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