Orioles offense starts slow in 6-4 loss (updated)

BOSTON - Hanser Alberto lined a single into right field tonight with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and the Orioles could exhale. They had their first baserunner.

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, the former Orioles farmhand, wasn’t going to make history against them. Just a mild flirtation on a cold and rainy night in Boston.

Fourteen straight Orioles were retired before Alberto’s hit and the Orioles already trailed by three runs. They rallied for two in the seventh on Dwight Smith Jr.’s homer, but the bullpen cracked again in a 6-4 loss at Fenway Park.

The Orioles are 5-9 and have lost four games in a row and eight of nine. The series continues tomorrow afternoon with Andrew Cashner on the mound.

Perhaps he can end the streak of home runs allowed by Orioles pitchers that grew to 14 games with Andrew Benintendi’s opposite-field shot in the third inning. The record to start a season is 16 by the 2009 Phillies.

No other Boston player hit a home run tonight, leaving the Orioles with 38 on the season.

Renato Núñez hit a two-run homer off Tyler Thornburg in the ninth inning to toss some drama back into the game, but the Orioles couldn’t get any closer.

Trey Mancini doubled in the seventh and Smith pulled a changeup into the right field seats with two outs to reduce the Red Sox’s lead to 3-2. He’s homered in back-to-back games.

Alberto struck out against Matt Barnes and reached on a wild pitch to represent the tying run, but Jesús Sucre struck out.

Paul Fry was charged with a run in the seventh when Evan Phillips replaced him with two outs and threw a wild pitch that scored Christian Vázquez. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a sensational leaping catch against the wall to rob Joey Rickard in the eighth after Jonathan Villar’s two-out walk and the Red Sox padded their lead with two runs off Phillips in the bottom half on J.D. Martinez’s leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt, two infield hits and Bradley’s sacrifice fly.

The bullpen has surrendered 53 earned runs and 54 total in 62 1/3 innings.

hess-delivers-front-fenway-black-sidebar.jpgDavid Hess had retired six of the first seven batters on 20 pitches, striking out Eduardo Núñez on a 94 mph fastball to close out the second. Benintendi drove a changeup that caught too much of the plate over the Green Monster in left and the Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the fourth on Xander Bogaerts’ RBI double on a 93 mph fastball and Núñez’s single on another changeup.

Given no offensive support beyond a single, Hess came within an out of completing the sixth inning and turning in a quality start by definition. Bogaerts singled and manager Brandon Hyde brought in Fry to face Rafael Devers, who grounded out.

Hess allowed three runs and six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches and his ERA is 3.32 in 19 innings.

Rodriguez was charged with two runs and three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox’s rotation began the night 0-8 with an 8.79 ERA and 1.87 WHIP that ranked as the highest in the majors.

The Orioles have gone hitless the first time through their order in four games this season. They got only one ball out of the infield tonight before Villar came to the plate again to lead off the fourth.

Rickard and Mancini struck out to end the inning, Rodriguez stranded Alberto in the fifth and the lefty continued to face only one batter over the minimum in the sixth when Villar followed Bogaerts’ fielding error with a ground ball that the Red Sox converted into a 4-6-3 double play.

Mancini doubled to right-center field with one out in the seventh, the ball somehow eluding Mookie Betts’ glove. The misplay proved to be costly after Smith homered and Rodriguez came out of the game.

A leadoff walk by Mancini in the ninth and Núñez’s 450-foot home run gave the Orioles a final chance at a comeback, but the next three batters were retired. Chris Davis pinch-hit for Sucre with two outs and lined out to Núñez with the count full, again into the teeth of the shift, to make him hitless in 54 straight at-bats and 62 plate appearances.

Down on the farm, left-hander Keegan Akin made his Harbor Park debut tonight with Triple-A Norfolk and allowed two runs and four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts in six innings. Sixty-five of his 78 pitches were strikes, an incredible ratio.

Single-A Delmarva’s Grayson Rodriguez allowed only one hit in six scoreless innings, with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

Hyde on team fighting back again: “I think that we’re rallying in the dugout, I think guys are not giving up and taking really good at-bats late in the game. It’s a sign of a team with high character that’s able to battle back against some good pitching and make it close there at the end.

“I was just really happy with how, after getting shut down the first five or six innings to put some baserunners out there. Dwight got a big hit for us and then Nunie makes it close for us. I was just really happy with how we’re battling back.”

Hyde on slow offensive starts: “I thought Rodriguez was really good tonight. He’s throwing mid-90s with a really good changeup and really kept us off-balance. We didn’t square many balls up until later the second time through the order, third time through the order. We had our work cut out for us because he was really on and we just couldn’t muster any rallies the first four or five innings of the game.”

Hyde on feeling bad for Hess: “No doubt, yeah. He pitched into the sixth for us, threw the ball well. We played some good defense behind him. We just didn’t score any runs. We had four hits yesterday and four again. We’ve got to get more hits, obviously, we’ve got to get more baserunners. I like the way we’re grinding out at-bats. We’ve just been slow the last couple games putting rallies together.”

Hyde on bullpen: “Evan comes into a really, really tough spot there and he’s trying to be careful with Mookie. I like the matchup with (Mitch) Moreland behind him and he ends up punching out Moreland after that. He throws one to the back stop, just unfortunate. They get a swinging bunt single the next inning. It felt like a little bit of bad luck of late with our bullpen guys, as well.”

Hyde on Davis pinch-hitting: “Well, (Ryan) Brasier’s numbers against right-handed hitters are extraordinary, so I was just trying to get the tying run to the plate. CD’s obviously left-handed and almost always in a 3-2 count it seems like. Hoping for a walk or something where he can possibly get on base for us and bring Rio (Ruiz) up, try to keep the rally going, and he put together a great at-bat. Got the full count. Got one out to right field and the shift got him.”

Hyde on Bradley: “It was a great catch in a big spot and that’s what good teams do, make big plays in big spots. Gave-saving plays, and those three guys can play the outfield. That was a great play by Jackie.

“He goes high up against the wall. The ball really carried. It’s why they’re good, because they make big plays. That was a turning point in the game. That ball goes off the wall there, it’s a tighter game obviously and things change a little bit. But Jackie plays some center field.”

Hess on outing: “I think really competing was the biggest thing tonight. I felt like I didn’t have my best stuff out there, so I really was trying to establish fastball as best as possible. Got a good feel for the split as the game went on, so just kind of trying to put it together as best as we could tonight.”

Hess on whether frustrated: “I think really for me the biggest thing is feeling like I kind of let the team down, in a way. Going out there, coming out of the game down 3-0. I put that on myself more than anything, because we’ve got a good group of hitters. They’re going to put up runs. They’re going to take care of business, so I try to do the same on my end. Really at the end of the day I just need to be a little bit better.”

Hess on clubhouse mood: “I think that guys are hungry more than anything. I think just coming in and not laying down. There’s a lot of, I wouldn’t say frustration towards each other because that’s definitely not the case, but just frustration because we’re a bunch of guys that want to win. We’ve really struck together well, from what I can tell, and as a group we’ve really come together and picked each other up. Every day we come in just aiming for a win, and it’s been a little bit of tough luck but we’ll get it together and we’ll be good to go.”

Smith on home run: “He was throwing me some changeups throughout the game. He was locating pretty well. I just try and not do too much and finally got one a little up and I just put a good swing on it. I was there.”

Smith on team mentality when not hitting early: “You’ve just got to keep pushing. It’s tough, it’s tough when you play these close games and they get away from you at the end. It’ll turn around soon.”

Smith on frustration: “Yeah, it can get frustrating for sure because we know what we’re capable of and we’re capable of playing better. It’s not like we’ve been playing bad, but we’re playing good teams that have just been capitalizing. It’s tough. We’ve just got to keep pushing.”

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