Orioles still can't find way past Blue Jays

Orioles still can't find way past Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Millwood has tried everything, but simply can't escape the first inning unscathed.

He's tried adjusting his mechanics, tweaking the way he mentally approaches each start, and was even placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 6 to rest his right forearm -- all to no avail.

On Tuesday, it was the same old song and dance for the grizzled right-hander. He watched a first-pitch fastball to outfielder Jose Bautista sail way back into the second deck at Rogers Centre -- leading to a three-run first-inning lead for the Blue Jays.

The Jays' offense continued their assault on Millwood, chasing the 14-year veteran after just 5 1/3 frames, and in the process, sending the O's to a disappointing 8-2 loss.

Millwood has now allowed two runs or more in 10 of his 11 starts this season. Of the 83 runs he has given up this year, 31 have come in the opening frame -- a trend he has no explanation for.

"I've tried different things," a solemn Millwood said. "I don't think it has anything to do with warming up, or the way I'm warming up. I'm just getting off to bad starts."

Following the three-run first, things didn't get any easier for Millwood. The Jays tacked on a lone run in the third and an additional two insurance runs in the fourth. Millwood exited the ballgame with one out in the sixth and runners on first and second.

Orioles starters have now lasted just 60 1/3 frames over their past 12 contests, surrendering a staggering 54 earned runs in the process -- statistics that Millwood and the rest of the O's staff are not proud of.

"No matter what's going on, you always want to go deep into ballgames," said the right-hander of his own short outing. "It is just not happening [for me]. I'm not making the right adjustments, and I'm not pitching well.

"I don't know what else to say."

Down six runs entering the eighth frame, the Orioles, for the second straight night, attempted a late push.

Nick Markakis laced an RBI double to right field to score Julio Lugo from second. With runners on second and third, the red-hot Luke Scott -- who during the past five games has accounted for over 50 percent of the Orioles' run production -- hit a sacrifice fly deep to right to plate Miguel Tejada. On the play, however, Bautista threw a laser to catch the tagging Markakis at third for a double play -- killing any hope of a comeback rally.

Bautista was able to put the game farther out of reach with his second home run of the game, and Major League-leading 30th on the season. off reliever Alfredo Simon in the bottom of the eighth. The American League All-Star has been dominant vs. the O's this season, batting .311 with six home runs and 15 RBIs over 11 games -- three home runs and seven hits coming off Millwood.

"He's been hurting everybody, not just us," interim manager Juan Samuel said of Bautista. "We try to make some good pitches on him, and he keeps fouling those pitches off and we fall behind. He's just in one of those zones right now where we have to continue to make pitches, and if we miss, he's taking advantage of it."

With the loss, the Orioles fell to 0-11 against the Blue Jays this season and have been outscored by a 63-23 margin. The O's losing streak sits at four games.

Just like Millwood, Samuel said the club is doing everything it can to turn things around.

"Well, you hope that things will play out differently," Samuel said. "You know guys are trying, and we are trying everything possible, but the outcome is the same. We just have to ride this out, and hopefully tomorrow things will start turning around."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.