McLouth trying to end his slump

Nate McLouth smoked a ball in the first inning yesterday that dissolved into another out, with Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera soaring to his right to make a sensational diving catch.

Nick Markakis smoked a ball in the fifth inning that turned into an infield hit when the ball clanked off Cabrera's glove as he attempted to make another diving catch.

McLouth sat in the dugout as Markakis reached first base and laughed at the fickle nature of baseball.

McLouth really needed Cabrera to miss his liner. He's hitless in his last 14 at-bats and 7-for-49 this month, his average dropping from .346 to .268.

"It's always a combination of things," he said after yesterday's 8-4 Orioles loss to the San Diego Padres. "It's absolutely just amazing how things can go from, you're swinging the bat so well and everything's falling in, to kind of the complete opposite. I think it's been a combination of maybe expanding my strike zone a hair and I haven't been getting on top of the ball the way I like to. I've hit some balls hard that have been caught, and I haven't hit some balls hard, but you've just got to weather it. You've got to come out and not get discouraged or frustrated and just know that it's going to click back sooner or later."

It's going to take longer if his luck doesn't change, if players like Cabrera keep robbing him.

"It's things like that, and that's why you can't get frustrated," McLouth said. "And I had to chuckle a little bit because a couple innings later Nick hit the exact same ball and he dove and it hit off his glove. When you're on fire, that's what happens. But when you're not swinging the bat well, he catches it. Just try not to get frustrated and swing your way through it."

McLouth probably raised the bar too high in April, when he batted .346/.452/.513 with seven doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, 15 walks and eight stolen bases in 23 games.

"It stinks, but other guys are swinging the bat really well," he said. "And regardless, I'm just going to try to come in and be the same person every day and not let it affect my emotions and things like that. Play good defense and run hard when I hit the ball. Just continue to try to have good at-bats and know that it will turn around. Hopefully on Friday."

On the plus side, McLouth's slump hasn't hurt the 20-year-old third baseman hitting behind him. Manny Machado is so hot at the plate, he could melt a catcher's shin guards.

"It's pretty neat," McLouth said. "He's just got a self-confidence about him. He's not sitting out here saying, 'Look at me.' It's not that at all. He's just confident in his abilities and he really stays within himself well. You forget how young he is sometimes."

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