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Arrieta's gem spoiled by walk-off homer

Arrieta's gem spoiled by walk-off homer

DETROIT -- The back end of the Orioles' bullpen, a group that in the previous two weeks had finally started to spell relief, couldn't come up with the big outs on Tuesday night.

Instead, Jason Berken, Alfredo Simon and David Hernandez -- a trio hoping to shut down Detroit on a paper-thin 'pen corps -- were each charged with a pair of runs and the Orioles stranded a season-high 17 runners, watched a three-run lead disintegrate and suffered a disappointing 7-5 walk-off loss in 11 innings.

"Every loss is tough," said Hernandez, who entered Tuesday with five straight scoreless appearances -- in which he allowed just three hits and struck out 11 -- before surrendering Johnny Damon's game-winning two-run homer. "Obviously we have lost 50-something games. It's definitely not fun."

Hernandez entered a tie game in the 10th and, after tossing a 1-2-3 inning, he allowed a leadoff 11th-inning single to rookie Austin Jackson, before Damon took a 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence. Damon's blast sent a crowd of 22,532 at Comerica Park to their feet in applause, as the Tigers capped their 45th win and maintained the top spot in the American League Central.

Things weren't nearly as rosy across the field, as the Orioles continued to sink further in the AL East cellar, dropping to 25-58 and securing their 23rd series loss this season in the nearly four-hour marathon game.

"It was just one of those games that really exhausts you physically and mentally," Orioles starter Jake Arrieta said of Tuesday's game, which featured temperatures in the low 90s and came on the heels of Monday's three-hour and 44-minute loss.

"It's a tough loss for us," Arrieta added. "I felt the team fought really well. It was just one of those games that was really close that didn't end up going our way."

The 24-year-old Arrieta certainly did his part, turning in one of the best outings of his young career. Making only his sixth Major League start, Arrieta allowed just a second-inning run over 6 1/3 innings of work, scattering seven hits and picking up four strikeouts in the no-decision.

"He challenges hitters and the tempo of the game was very good," interim manager Juan Samuel said of Arrieta. "He made some good, good pitches to a tough lineup."

So did his mound counterpart, Tigers starter Armando Galarraga. Despite several chances -- including putting the leadoff man on twice in the first four innings -- the O's couldn't score off Galarraga until the seventh inning. After stranding 10 batters through six frames, Nick Markakis blasted Galarraga's full-count pitch 390 feet to score Miguel Tejada -- who hit a leadoff single -- and give the Orioles a one-run edge. Matt Wieters followed with a two-out triple to knock Galarraga from the game and bring on reliever Phil Coke. Felix Pie, who was officially activated prior to the game, drove in Wieters with his second single of the night. The Orioles tacked on another run courtesy of Markakis' RBI single in the eighth, and Julio Lugo drove in Adam Jones in the ninth.

But it wasn't enough, as too many of Baltimore's 17 hits went for naught, leaving the O's 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

"We're starting to swing the bats well," Wieters said. "And hits with runners in scoring position, I feel like they are going to come, because we are getting more opportunities."

The Tigers didn't wait, making the most of each opportunity and blasting a pair of critical homers, including Miguel Cabrera's game-tying dinger in the ninth.

"There's no defense when you hit it out of the ballpark," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Simon found that out firsthand, as the Orioles' closer -- tasked with trying to record a five-out save with a two-run cushion -- blew his second save in 12 opportunities.

Simon, who came on to relieve Berken after a pair of runs, recorded the final two outs of the eighth before issuing a full-count walk to Damon to start the ninth. One out later, Cabrera took a 1-1 pitch into the left-field stands to tie the game at 5 and force extra innings.

"These wins are not coming in bunches," Samuel said. "When we have a chance to win the game, we have to go for it. So, we thought Simon would be able to get us five outs."

They had hoped, anyway. With an overworked bullpen, given Monday's starter Kevin Millwood's one-inning outing, a struggling Frank Mata (9.22 ERA) was the only Orioles arm left after Hernandez.

"We had to do what we needed to do," Samuel said. "We did not use Simon [Monday], we did not use Jason. So, we still felt like Hernandez was throwing the ball good [after the 10th]. We were going to see how far we were going to go with him."

"I definitely wasn't sharp," Hernandez said. "It's going to happen. I mean, I am not going to say 'No' if they want me to pitch. I am going to go in there regardless [of whether] I have my best stuff or not."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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