O’s can’t dig out of early hole as the losing streak reaches six

The Orioles lost again tonight, and this time, things went wrong just about right from the start. The Orioles trailed 5-0 after one inning and lost by that same score to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles’ losing streak has reached six games and with the latest defeat, they fall out of a first-place tie with Tampa Bay. They are now one game back.

Wei-Yin Chen entered this start having allowed just one earned run in 18 innings all year over the first and second innings of his initial nine starts. But this time, Tampa Bay scored five runs on five hits in the last of the first.

The inning featured two Rays bunts, one for a hit and one for a sacrifice, to plate a run. Luke Scott added a two-run single and now has 35 RBIs, while Hideki Matsui added a two-run homer to right to make it a 5-0 game.

Chen didn’t allow any more runs, but the damage was done as he gave up five hits over 5 2/3 innings to fall to 4-2 on the year with an ERA of 3.75. Chen pitched to an ERA of 2.22 in April and 4.20 in May.

The Orioles have now lost six in a row and nine of their last 11 games to fall to 29-23 and are out of first place for the first time since May 5.

In those last 11 games, Orioles starters have pitched to an ERA of 6.15 with just four quality starts.

Meanwhile, Rays lefty David Price pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings on just three hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He improves to 7-3 with an ERA of 2.44.

Price was winless in four starts last year against Baltimore, but is now 5-2 with an ERA of 2.58 in 10 career starts versus the Orioles. Price, who began tonight fourth in the AL in ERA, has now pitched seven innings or more in six consecutive starts.

Tampa Bay had scored just six runs during a three-game series where it got swept by the White Sox, but the Rays almost matched that in the opening inning. Tampa Bay moved a game ahead of the Orioles atop the American League East standings.

In game two of this series on Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Brian Matusz (4-5, 4.82 ERA) pitches against right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.83 ERA).

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