The Orioles sailed into the last of the fourth today with a 3-0 lead. But the game unraveled for the Birds and Brian Matusz when Tampa scored five runs in that inning and went on to beat the Birds, 7-3.
The O’s were batting .302 since Buck Showalter took over, but today were held to just four hits. There were 19 straight O’s batters retired after an Adam Jones three-run homer in the third until a Matt Wieters double with one out in the ninth.
The O’s took a 3-0 lead in that third. After a Ty Wigginton single and walk to Luke Scott, Jones hit his blast off the left field foul pole.
It was his 17th homer of the year, but just his second over the past 23 games.
The lead didn’t last too long as Tampa scored five in the fourth. The big blast was a Grand Slam by Kelly Shoppach. The first five batters reached and scored vs. Matusz in that inning. Shoppach added a solo blast off Alfredo Simon in the 8th for a two-homer, 5 RBI game. Shoppach entered the day with a .195 average and just one homer in 87 big league at bats on the season.
Matusz, after giving up just two runs over 12 innings his last two starts, gave up five runs and nine hits over four innings. He is 4-12, 5.28. Matusz ties teammate Kevin Millwood for the league lead in losses.
O’s starters had pitched to an ERA of 2.26 over the last 11 games.
Matusz’s outing also ended a streak of O’s starters pitching at least six innings in 11 straight games.
The O’s left five runners on over the first two innings vs. Andy Sonnanstine and did not score after putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the first.
After out-hitting Tampa 12-3 Friday, today, the O’s were out-hit, 15-4 as Tampa won for just the third time over its last ten games.
With a win today, the O’s would have won four straight series for the first time since August of 2004. They can still achieve that with a victory in the series finale at St. Petersburg on Sunday when Jake Arrieta (4-3, 5.29) faces Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 1.29).
So, the Orioles fall to 9-3 under Buck Showalter, 3-8 on the year vs. Tampa, 11-36 vs. the AL East and 41-76 overall.