Orioles come close in loss

Orioles come close in loss

DETROIT -- For the third straight game, an Orioles starting pitcher could not make it past the fifth inning. Predictably, it was also the Orioles' third straight loss.

Adam Loewen left after the fifth with what manager Sam Perlozzo called a "nagging ache in [Loewen's] forearm," and Danys Baez gave up two runs in the eighth in a 5-4 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

The loss not only meant the Orioles continued their slump -- it was their eighth loss in their last nine games -- but it was doubly negative with the scary news about Loewen's forearm.

Loewen declined to speak with reporters after the game, but Perlozzo didn't seem to think the injury was serious. Still, the Orioles must be a little bit concerned with two members of their starting rotation -- Kris Benson and Jaret Wright -- on the disabled list. Perlozzo said Loewen's arm had been bothering him in his last three starts.

"It only bothered him on certain pitches, on his curveball," Perlozzo said. "He said he was fine, though. On his fastball and slider, it didn't bother him, but I kind of thought he was a little different in the fifth, and didn't want to take any more chances."

Loewen coasted through the first four innings. He didn't give up a run, and allowed just one runner to reach third base. The trouble began in the fifth, after a member of the training staff and Perlozzo came out to visit Loewen with two outs in the fourth.

The Tigers tagged Loewen for three runs in the fifth, including a two-run homer from Craig Monroe. So Loewen's night was done, despite just 85 pitches and a bullpen in desperate need of some rest. No Orioles starter has gone a full seven innings since Steve Trachsel did it on April 12, a span of 17 games.

"Again, we're five innings [with the starting pitcher], and it's really taxing the bullpen," Perlozzo said. "Somehow, we need someone that can get us into that seventh inning."

Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford both pitched a scoreless inning in the sixth and seventh, respectively. The score stayed tied, 3-3, thanks to a Miguel Tejada RBI single.

Baez led off the eighth with two walks sandwiched between a Brandon Inge sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Sean Casey delivered a seeing-eye single under the glove of third baseman Melvin Mora that scored the game-winning win.

"I made the right pitch, and [Casey] got a ground ball," Baez said. "Sometimes you can have control on the pitch you throw, but can't have control on where the groundball's gonna be."

Perlozzo said he kept the right-handed Baez in to face the lefty Casey to keep the double-play threat alive. Casey, a notoriously slow runner, was a perfect candidate for the double play, but it didn't happen that way.

"It's a game of inches, Casey hits a ball that could have been a double play and instead it's a single," Perlozzo said. "When we were going good, we were getting those kind of breaks."

Two batters later, Placido Polanco delivered an insurance run a ground ball deep into the hole between Mora and Tejada. Tejada managed to field the ball in shallow left field, but there was no chance to throw out Polanco at first.

The Tigers needed that run when Brian Roberts scored in the ninth, and actually had a chance to tie the game when Nick Markakis advanced to third base with two outs. But Aubrey Huff flied out to end the game.

As for Loewen, Perlozzo said he doesn't anticipate he will miss any starts, though they will closely monitor his status.

"I think he's fine, he's got a nagging ache in his forearm. That's not a serious spot or anything," Perlozzo said. "It's just an annoyance."

Clearly, it was annoyance that a starter again could not make it late in the game. But an even bigger annoyance would come if Loewen became the next Orioles pitcher to spend time on the DL.

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