The Orioles (30-41) hadn't won since June 8, and they'd lost 14 of their last 16 games. That skid prompted the team to dismiss manager Sam Perlozzo and replace him with interim boss Dave Trembley, who won his first big-league game Wednesday night. Trembley had promised Tuesday to refrain from taking souvenirs until his team won.
"Coming from where I've come from, it's more than special," said Trembley, who kept the lineup card and game ball.
Strangely enough, without Trembley, the Orioles may never have had Guthrie on their roster. The longtime Minor League manager filed a report on the right-hander last winter and helped convince the team's executives to claim him off waivers from Cleveland. And before that, he helped instill some confidence in the former first-round pick.
"It's a big coincidence," Guthrie said. "I respect him a lot. My first experience I remember with him was the '04 Double-A All-Star Game. I'd actually struggled going into that, and he told me, 'I want you to be my starter.' ... It was just nice to have someone that actually had so much confidence in me even though he was an opposing manager.
"Ever since then, I thanked him for that and I sent him over a couple notes every time we played Ottawa. I enjoyed the confidence and the excitement he showed me in just two short days in Bowie."
Guthrie, who ranks second in the American League with a 2.42 ERA, has been stunningly consistent. He's allowed more than two earned runs in just one of his 10 starts, but he's rarely been more dominant than he was Wednesday. Guthrie struck out nine batters -- one shy of his career high -- and only let one runner reach scoring position.
That came all the way back in the second inning, and Baltimore's starter only allowed three hits after that -- and one was a solo homer in the eighth. Ten of his outs came on fly balls, and another came on a strong relay from right fielder Nick Markakis. Guthrie (4-1) worked through the eighth and handed the ball to southpaw Jamie Walker.
"I didn't ask him if he was tired," Trembley said. "He didn't tell me he wanted to go back out. I took him out."
"It was nice," Guthrie said about being handed an early lead. "At the same time, three runs in this league is three hitters away from losing that three-run lead at any given time. A seven-run lead would feel a little more comfortable. ... If your offense can start you off like that, it's a huge advantage. Hopefully, I can pick them up as well."
Despite Guthrie's run of strong pitching, he'd drawn no-decisions in six of his last seven starts. Three of his starts had gone extra innings, and Baltimore blew three saves in that span. Guthrie has thrown eight straight quality starts, and perhaps because of their long shared history, Trembley seemed to be the least surprised guy in the room.
"I'm telling you, he pitched 20 times against my teams in the Minor Leagues," he said. "I'd always tell our teams, 'If you get him, you'd better get him early, because if you don't, he's going to get better.' He just gets in a groove and he's in tremendous physical shape. His mound presence and poise is above and beyond.
"You see it, and you've seen it every time. What hurt him in the Minor Leagues was an inability to command all his pitches. I think that came from [not knowing] what his role was. ... I saw him as a starting pitcher in the big leagues."
Baltimore racked up plenty of offense in the first inning Wednesday. The road team's first five batters reached base, and three batters in a row -- Kevin Millar, Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada -- drove home runs. The Orioles scored four more times in the eighth to provide the final margin, and San Diego (41-29) never got close.
"That's kind of textbook baseball for us," Trembley said about the early onslaught. "We used to tell them in the Minor Leagues, 'Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in.' Make productive outs [and] move guys, and that's what they did. I thought the baserunning was real good. ... It looked like they had fun. They should have fun."
The Orioles had a scare in the eighth inning, when Tejada was hit in his left wrist by a pitch. The stoic shortstop stayed in the game and scored, but didn't come back out to play defense in the bottom half. Initial X-rays showed no broken bones, but Tejada went to the hospital for further testing to determine the state of his wrist.
If the tests show a broken bone, Tejada's consecutive games streak -- the fifth-longest in history -- will likely end.
"I'm worried," said the four-time All-Star, who has played in 1,151 consecutive games. "I feel like everything's fine, but there's a little swelling up here. I've got to wait. I've got to go to the hospital."