Homer hurts Hunter again (O's lose 6-1)

The Orioles and Athletics were scoreless through three innings tonight before the home run bug bit Tommy Hunter again.

You know exactly where it got him.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run shot deep into the left field seats in the fourth to give Oakland a 2-0 lead.

Hunter started off Cespedes with four consecutive four-seam fastballs. He threw an 83 mph slider and Cespedes launched it for his 14th homer of the season.

Hunter has allowed 23 homers in 99 1/3 innings.

In four innings tonight, Hunter has surrendered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He's thrown 64 pitches, 40 for strikes.

Before tonight, Hunter had walked one batter and struck out 18 in his last seven starts covering 42 2/3 innings.

The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in eight of Hunter's last 13 starts while he's been in the game. Bartolo Colon is shutting them out on five hits over four innings tonight.

Omar Quintanilla has two of the hits, including a double in the second, and is 8-for-20 with the Orioles. His roster spot figures to be in jeopardy with Brian Roberts and Robert Andino expected to come off the disabled list next week.

The Orioles, at 52-48, have posted their best record after 100 games since 1997, when they were 62-38 and went wire-to-wire in winning the American League East and reaching the ALCS for the second consecutive year.

I figured that you would appreciate a 1997 comparison after all the 2005 references. You're welcome.

One more note: Last night's four-hour game was the longest by the Orioles in nine innings since Aug. 24, 2008, when they lost to the Yankees, 8-7, in 4:01.

Update: The bottom of the Athletics' order produced another run in the fifth. Kurt Suzuki doubled with one out and scored on No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard's single to increase Oakland's lead to 3-0.

Update II: Chris Carter hit a two-run homer off Hunter in the sixth, and the right-hander is done for the night.

Hunter allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, with one walk, seven strikeouts and two home runs - raising his total to 24. He threw 96 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Miguel Socolovich, who's expected to be optioned tomorrow to make room for outfielder Lew Ford, retired Brandon Moss on a fly ball to the warning track in left and struck out Brandon Inge to end the inning.

Tonight's attendance: 21,143

Update III: Socolovich gave up a run in the eighth on Cespedes' RBI triple, increasing Oakland's lead to 6-0.

The Orioles are 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through seven innings and have stranded 10 runners.

On a positive note, Socolovich is sparing the rest of the bullpen.

Yes, I'm really reaching here.

Update IV: Well, at least they weren't shut out.

Nick Markakis homered in the ninth inning, his ninth of the season, but the Athletics took a 6-1 victory.

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