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Orioles fall to Burnett, Jays

Orioles fall to Burnett, Jays

TORONTO -- They're not losing by much, but they're losing nonetheless. The Orioles dropped their fifth straight game Wednesday and fell to five games under .500 for the first time all year by virtue of their second straight 2-1 loss to Toronto. Baltimore has lost the last four games by a total of five runs, and are 4-8 in one-run games.

"We've got to be positive because we've got to be on the field anyway," said shortstop Miguel Tejada. "We've got to be on the field, we've got to be strong and the good times are going to come. It's hard to be on one level the whole year. Every team in the Major Leagues passes through this moment where we are now. Look at what happened to the Yankees. They battled, they came back and now they're in a good situation."

The Orioles (18-23) fell into a virtual tie with Tampa Bay for last place in the American League East on Wednesday, but there isn't much ground separating them from second place. Perhaps that's fitting, considering that Baltimore pushed the tying run on base in the ninth inning of its last two losses, both of which came against a hot Toronto starter.

Rookie Jesse Litsch did the honors Tuesday night, and hard-throwing A.J. Burnett put the O's in their place on Wednesday. Burnett (4-3) threw a complete-game three-hitter and struck out 10 batters, and Baltimore didn't get a hit over the last four innings. In the aftermath, a few Orioles said he was all but unhittable.

"He was throwing ahead in the count most of the day and was able to use his devastating curveball for his out-pitch," said first baseman Kevin Millar, who drilled a solo home run that stood up as the road team's only run. "That's what makes him so tough. He's 94, 95, 97 [mph] when he wants to be, locating his fastball with a big hook."

"He's a great pitcher. He's got great stuff and he uses it -- and that's why he's always so tough," added Tejada. "He throws hard and he's not afraid to throw a fastball in. ... Everything he threw today just worked. He worked mostly everybody different, and to me, he's one of the best pitchers we've seen this year."

In the last two nights, Toronto's starting pitchers got a total of 53 outs and gave up just seven hits. The six earned runs allowed during the series were the fewest the Jays have allowed in any series all year. Part of that may have been due to the tight Baltimore team, which has won just one of its last eight series.

"We've just got to keep plugging away," Millar said. "That's the only positive thing right now. It's May 15. ... It's a long season and a lot of things are going to happen from here on out. We'll get hot as a group and hot as a team. You keep going [and] you can't quit. You've got to keep working harder when you go through these times."

"We can't worry about what we're doing right now," Tejada said. "We just need to relax, come back on Friday and start another streak. ... Right now we're not hitting and we're not winning, but there are still a lot of games left. We've got to keep playing and not think about what happened in the past."

The Blue Jays (18-22) made starter Brian Burres (1-2) throw a lot of pitches for his second straight outing, and he left after five innings. The southpaw allowed seven hits and two earned runs, but no extra-base hits. Burres will head back to the bullpen for now, thanks to a schedule full of off-days.

"I did throw a lot more strikes, got ahead a little better. I used the fastball a little better," Burres said. "You'd always like to go more than five when you are starting. I'd like to keep going. I felt I pitched good enough to get there."

"They didn't really hit him that hard. It seems like that his first inning, his pitch count gets up there a bit," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "He's got some good pitches. ... He made some really good hitters not look so good. He just neeeds to be a little more efficient, throw less pitches early on, and I think he'll be even better."

The Orioles will have an off-day Thursday and will continue their season with an Interleague series in Washington. To a man, the O's said they'd rather keep playing than sit around and think about their current situation.

"When you've lost so many games like this," Tejada said, "you just want to keep playing because you want to get out of the slump. I think the only way you get out of the slump is to keep playing baseball."

"You want to get back out there," said Millar. "Obviously, off-days give everybody a chance to regroup, hang out with their families and get ready for Washington. We'll regroup as a club. This was just one of those series that we came up one run short. We had two good pitching performances from the Blue Jays."

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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