Miguel Gonzalez took the mound tonight and retired the side in order in the first inning on just five pitches.
But his night quickly got more difficult and Houston scored four off him in the second and knocked him out during a five-run fourth inning tonight in an 11-0 win.
"My bullpen was great," Gonzalez said. "Everything was down and I thought I would do pretty well. First inning was good. Second inning I was just leaving the ball up and it just carried on throughout the whole game. Just a tough night for me overall. Just tough."
After giving up a career-high nine runs over 3 2/3 innings, he said it was not a good night for his split-finger fastball or some of his other pitches either.
"Everything was flat," Gonzalez said. "Even my curveball and slider were flat today. Just can't pitch that way. Makes it hard."
After recording eight straight quality starts with an ERA of 2.35 between June 6 and July 20, Gonzalez has now allowed 17 hits and 15 runs (10 earned) over 8 1/3 his last two outings.
"It's baseball, you have to be mentally strong and work on what you need to work on between starts," he said. "I know exactly what I need to do to get better."
And as for his team, which has now lost six of eight games?
"Just keep playing the way we've been playing. You'll have some rough outings," Gonzalez said. "Everyone wants us to win. There are 162 games and there are a lot more out there. A lot more to come."
Houston scored its fifth run in the fourth on a two-out, bases loaded error on shortstop J.J. Hardy. Jason Castro followed with a grand slam to make the five runs that inning all unearned.
"I played it into an in-between hop and just missed it," Hardy said of the error. "Simple as that.
"We didn't put any runs on the board. I made a big error there and they scored a bunch that inning. Just have to bounce back. Forget about this one, move on and win the series tommorow."
What do the O's need to do to turn around this recent slide and a stretch where they have been shutout twice in the last three games?
"Win tomorrow for one. Just have to start playing better baseball and get on a roll here," Hardy said.