Jason Hammel kept walking the tightrope, but he never quite fell off. However, the O's bats didn't have their usual night tonight, and Hammel took the loss as Kansas City beat the Orioles 3-2.
The Orioles' rally in the ninth against Royals closer Greg Holland came up short. Adam Jones produced an RBI triple with no outs to pull the O's within 3-2, but then Holland got Chris Davis to strike out, J.J. Hardy to ground out and Henry Urrutia to ground out as the potential tying run was stranded at third.
It was just the second loss in 10 games for the Orioles, who are now 57-44. The Birds fell 3 1/2 games back of first-place Boston, who beat Tampa Bay tonight.
The Royals scored single runs in the first three innings off Hammel, who allowed eight hits in those innings but pitched out of some jams to keep the Royals' run total at three.
On the night, Hammel went six innings, allowing 10 hits and three runs with four walks and four strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches and fell to 7-7 with an ERA of 5.20. The Royals went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position against Hammel, who has not won since May 27.
But the Birds' bats didn't put up the numbers they had been. Over the previous three games, the Orioles scored 20 runs on 45 hits and went 17-for-46 (.370) with runners in scoring position.
Their first run tonight came on Manny Machado's solo homer in the third. It was his eighth on the year and his first since July 9.
Winning pitcher Bruce Chen improved to 4-0 with an ERA of 1.97. Over six innings, the former Oriole gave up just three hits and one run, throwing 94 pitches. He has given up just one run over 12 innings in his last two starts.
The O's, who had a five-game win streak snapped, had not even trailed over the last 45 innings but fell behind after just one inning tonight.
Feel free to leave your reactions or comments here on tonight's game and also tonight's trade, as the O's acquired Francisco Rodriguez from Milwaukee for Nicky Delmonico. Read more about the deal here and read Delmonico's comments about being traded by the Orioles here.