The search for the quality start (updated)

Remember that run recently when the Orioles got seven consecutive quality starts from their starting pitchers?

It went from July 18-24 and O's starters went 5-1 with an ERA of 2.47 during that stretch, as the team went 5-2. It was the most consecutive quality starts by the club since a stretch of nine in a row that spanned two seasons from Sept. 29, 2010 to April 4, 2011.

When the Orioles have gotten a quality start this year (defined as six innings or more allowing three earned runs or fewer), they are 39-7. That is an amazing .848 winning percentage.

But that stretch has now come and gone and the team has gotten just one quality start over the last nine games. In that stretch, the starters' ERA is 7.35 and the O's starter has been able to pitch six innings or more in just two of those nine games. The Orioles have at least held their own, going 4-5 in the stretch.

So getting that quality starts remains a huge key to success for the Orioles in 2012. But they just are not getting enough of them. They have the third-fewest quality starts in the AL.

39 - Kansas City
43 - Minnesota
46 - Orioles
50 - Boston

Los Angeles and Oakland have 61 to tie for the AL lead.

Wei-Yin Chen, who is 9-6 with an ERA of 3.65, is on the mound tonight for the Orioles. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.84 in two starts this season against Tampa Bay. Chen is 4-3 with a 4.27 ERA in 10 road starts.

Since the All-Star break Chen is 2-1 with an ERA of 2.49 and opponent batting average against of .167. He is coming off a 12-strikeout game over 5 2/3 Sunday against Oakland.

Updated: Chen gave the Orioles a big outing in that game against the A's and has pitched shutout ball through the first four innings tonight on 51 pitches. He needed just 35 pitches to get the first nine outs and pitched around a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth.

Meanwhile the Orioles got a 4-0 lead on Jeremy Hellickson, who was taken out of the game after just four innings. Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis had RBI singles and Chris Davis came through with a two-run single and now has 12 RBIs his last nine games.

The Orioles, who were 0-for-22 with runners in scoring position over the last two games, went 4-for-9 with RISP in the first four innings tonight.

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