A blowout loss turned into a one-run defeat today, when the Orioles produced a stunning rally in the ninth inning, but it fell short.
The O's, down 7-1 entering the ninth, scored five times to pull within one, but lost 7-6 to Detroit to fall to 1-4 with four straight losses.
A Chris Davis single off Phil Coke was followed by an Adam Jones triple and Nick Markakis' RBI groundout to start the ninth, cutting the deficit to 7-3. A J.J Hardy walk and singles by Matt Wieters and Steve Lombardozzi followed to load the bases.
Steve Clevenger then pinch hit for Jonathan Schoop and delivered a two-run double to make it 7-5 off closer Joe Nathan. David Lough's grounder to short then made it 7-6 when Alex Gonzalez threw late to first for an error. That left runners on first and second with one out.
But Nathan closed it out by getting Nelson Cruz on strikes with a slider and he got Davis to fly to shallow left on a 1-0 pitch as the tie run was stranded at second. What would have been a remarkable win ended as a close loss.
The Orioles are still looking for a starting pitcher to provide a quality start. It didn't happen for right-hander Bud Norris today.
Norris started well, needing just 25 pitches to get through the first two innings. But then Torii Hunter did some big damage, producing a three-run double off him in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth for a five-RBI day. It was his biggest day since he drove in six on June 8, 2012.
Hunter is 5-for-8 with two homers and six RBIs in this series. Detroit today matched its win total from last season, when the Tigers went 2-4 against the Orioles.
Orioles starters have pitched to an ERA of 7.56 on the season. Over 25 innings, they have allowed 42 hits, including six homers and 21 runs.
Since Chris Tillman gave up just one run on opening day, O's starters have worked to an ERA of 9.00 the last four games. In that time, they've allowed 35 hits and 20 runs over 20 innings, yielding five homers.
The O's offense produced just one run until the ninth and that came on a Davis RBI single in the first that scored Lough, who had walked and stolen second base.
Winning pitcher Rick Porcello went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just three hits and one run, throwing 94 pitches. He ended his outing by retiring 16 of the last 17 against an O's team against which he had a 5.14 career ERA.
Tillman takes the mound tomorrow afternoon for the Orioles looking for that elusive quality start and to pitch the Orioles to their second win of the season. The O's comeback fell one run short this afternoon at Comerica Park.