The Britton mystery continues (O’s lose 5-2)

For four starts, Zach Britton was a dominant left-hander with a fresh arm and the ability to anchor the Orioles’ rotation.

So what happened in his last two starts?

Britton has surrendered 10 runs and nine hits in 7 1/3 innings in those two outings, with nine walks and six strikeouts.

The Athletics jumped Britton in the third inning tonight, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring five runs to take a 5-2 lead. He was gone after the fourth with his pitch count at 86.

Britton had won four straight starts before his Sept. 9 assignment against the Yankees, allowing three runs over 28 2/3 innings. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings against New York, and another early exit tonight forced Steve Johnson into the game in long relief.

Johnson was a candidate to start Sunday, but left-hander Randy Wolf will take the mound.

Britton could get on another roll, but tonight’s game further illustrates how much the Orioles miss a healthy Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman. Tillman will start Monday in Seattle. Hammel’s return is unknown.

So is the reason for Britton’s sudden reversal.

Update: The Orioles have lost two straight games, falling to the A’s tonight, 5-2.

The Orioles have lost back-to-back games for only the second time since Aug. 4. They’re one game behind the Yankees in the American League East.

They ran themselves into two outs on the basepaths. Their streak of quality starts from the rotation ended at three, as Britton gave up five runs in the third and was gone after the fourth. And they’re in danger of being swept in the three-game series after sweeping the Rays at Camden Yards.

Speaking of sudden reversals ...

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