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Orioles held down by Athletics rookie

Guthrie fills in well, but O's fall in finale

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BALTIMORE -- It was his first start of the season, and through no fault of his own, it may have been his last. Jeremy Guthrie stepped into the rotation in place of injured starter Jaret Wright Tuesday and pitched well in Baltimore's 4-2 loss to Oakland. A pair of errors -- one physical and one mental -- led to all of the A's runs.

Third baseman Melvin Mora couldn't field a ball in the first inning, a miscue that led to two runs. The team's double-play combination, shortstop Miguel Tejada and second baseman Brian Roberts, combined to make another mistake in the sixth that led to the last two runs. Add it all up, and you have Baltimore's second straight loss.

The clubhouse was quiet in the moments after the game, but manager Sam Perlozzo said he didn't plan any lectures or motivational speeches. For now, the Orioles (11-9) have to forget about the loss and move forward.

"They've been playing well. You go in there and start chewing on them and it's like all the good things we did mean nothing," Perlozzo said. "We have a good bunch of guys out there and they're going to rebound and play well. You're going to have some spots where you lose some ballgames during the year. You don't like to lose them this way, but you are going to lose some games. You just have to pick yourself up and go after them again."

Guthrie fared well in his spot start, hitting the high 90's consistently with his fastball and rarely falling into trouble. One of the lone exceptions came in the first inning, when Oakland notched two straight one-out singles. The next batter hit a sharp ball right at Mora, but the infielder couldn't field the ball and didn't cover third base.

"I missed the ball. It should have been a double play there but I missed it," Mora said. "Physical errors are going to be there. ...I just need to come here tomorrow and work hard and try to correct what I did. That's all."

"Those things happen. Every play's not given to you," added Guthrie. "You've got to catch it and throw it, and it's not as easy as it looks all the time. We tried to work around it."

One run scored on the play and one runner moved to third, which set up a sacrifice fly on the very next play. Guthrie settled down after that, though, and retired nine of the next 10 batters. He didn't allow another runner to reach scoring position until the fifth inning, and he erased that threat with a double-play ball to Mora.

"From pitch one, I felt very comfortable and like I had command of what I was throwing," Guthrie said. "The velocity's been like that before, but command was there. That was the big issue. The big change is I was able to throw the pitches at a good velocity and command [them]. That made me effective against the righties and just getting ahead of guys."

"I thought he did extremely well. He did exactly what we wanted him to do," added Perlozzo. "The first inning, he had a little trouble. I think he was using too many of his offspeed [pitches] when he had a good fastball. [Pitching coach] Leo [Mazzone] went out and told him to start using his fastball.

"Shoot, it was 93 to 96 miles per hour. Once he started using that, he was a different pitcher."

The A's piled on two key runs in the sixth against Baltimore reliever John Parrish, who hadn't allowed an earned run all season prior to that rally. Oakland (11-9) loaded the bases on a two-out walk, and catcher Jason Kendall topped a ground ball to second base. Roberts fielded it cleanly and flipped to second, but Tejada was late to the bag.

The ball and Tejada got there a split-second after Mark Ellis, who got a great jump from first base. Roberts probably could've gone to first base to get Kendall instead of throwing to second, but Perlozzo refused to second-guess the decision after the game. At any rate, Parrish wound up walking in Oakland's final run.

"If we had somebody covering," Perlozzo said of the game's key play, "He would have been out."

"I was surprised, because it's bases loaded and two outs," Tejada said. "I was playing in back. I didn't know he was going to throw the ball over there. That's why I was surprised to get the ball. What can I say? That's a mental error. There's nothing that I can say and there's nothing we can do. It just happened."

"It doesn't matter what happened," Roberts said tersely in an out-of-character response for a normally affable player. "I made two big mistakes and we lost the game. It doesn't matter whose fault it was."

Oakland starter Dallas Braden outdueled Guthrie, working six innings and striking out six batters. The southpaw allowed just three hits in his Major League debut, and one was a one-out triple by Aubrey Huff in the second inning. Huff scored on a ground ball and drove in Baltimore's only other run with a seventh-inning double.

Guthrie (1-1) was the main revelation of the day, and he may have put himself in strong position if Wright isn't ready to return next week from his sore right shoulder. The veteran pitched in a Minor League rehab game on Tuesday night, and Guthrie said he's well aware that Wright will re-assume his rotation slot as soon as he's healthy.

"It's not an audition. It never was. We have five starters, and good starters on top of that," Guthrie said. "We wish the best for Jaret. He's a key to this team and to the success here. His last outing indicated that, the way he pitched. We're hoping he comes back and that we can settle the bullpen back into the roles.

"If they need another starter, we'll figure that out in five days."

Spencer Fordin 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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