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Olson fires gem, but O's come up short

Olson fires gem, but O's come up short

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OAKLAND -- You can't win if you can't hit.

The Orioles and A's struggled to find any offense Monday night, when pitching stole the show and both teams combined for one extra-base hit in an extra-inning game. The starting pitchers spun twin shutouts for six innings, and Oakland came out on top of a 2-1 decision on an Emil Brown single in the 10th inning.

The game turned and turned again in the late innings, using small ball and some defense-related drama to even things out. Oakland pushed home the game's first run with two infield singles in the seventh inning, and Baltimore tied the game on a ground ball in the ninth. Finally, Brown broke the deadlock with a clean single to left-center field.

With the loss, the Orioles dropped to 8-4 in one-run games and 3-12 when scoring three runs or fewer.

"That was a well-pitched game, obviously, on both sides," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "They made some very big defensive plays. We did, [and] scoring opportunities were limited on both sides. They ended up getting the hit to win."

"Certainly you go through a lot of spells for an offense where you're not going to score runs," added designated hitter Aubrey Huff. "I don't care who you are ... You're going to go through dry spells. We'll bounce back. We've had a pretty killer road trip [and] we haven't had much time off. Hopefully, that's it. I'm just trying to make an excuse somewhere."

Both Dana Eveland and Garrett Olson held complete control in the game's first six innings, as both allowed just one baserunner to reach scoring position. Olson slipped first, allowing a single and his first walk in the seventh. Baltimore went to the bullpen at that point, setting up a late-inning chess match between the two managers.

Trembley played the matchups in the seventh, summoning Matt Albers for a fly ball and southpaw specialist Jamie Walker to face the bottom of the batting order. That gambit was spoiled by a pair of infield singles, one by Jack Hannahan and one by Rajai Davis. The latter hit -- a ball midway between first and second base -- drove home the game's first run.

First baseman Kevin Millar ranged right and fielded the ball in front of second baseman Brian Roberts on that play, and Davis easily beat Walker to first base to put Oakland (20-14) on the scoreboard and set up Baltimore's comeback.

"It's probably a ball Roberts fields, but it didn't happen," said Trembley. "And when you start talking and thinking about the little things like that that happen, I'd rather look at all the good things that happen."

Eveland, meanwhile, worked into the eighth and didn't give the Orioles much room for hope. Baltimore (16-16) hit into three double plays in the first seven innings, and two of them came on hit-and-runs. The Orioles pushed runners to second-and-third with one out in the eighth, but reliever Alan Embree escaped the threat on a fly ball and a grounder.

"The first time around, you're just kind of checking him out," Huff said of Eveland, whom he'd never faced before. "We just didn't make any adjustments tonight off him. It's been pretty frustrating offensively. When we do get our hits, they're all singles. It seems like everybody is pressing right now trying to put a home run on the board when we're not scoring a lot of runs."

Trembley excused the double plays in the second and sixth, noting that it took a fine defensive play to erase the latter threat. Third baseman Donnie Murphy speared a ball in the sixth and easily doubled Roberts off base.

"I thought Murphy at third makes a heck of a play," he said. "Otherwise, we score a run and [Nick] Markakis probably has a triple. The other one, we hit a line drive and the guy catches it. On a hit-and-run, you keep running. That is good baseball on everybody's part. We're playing on the road, trying to open things up, trying to get something done."

The Orioles finally broke through in the ninth. Oakland closer Huston Street gave up a leadoff double to third baseman Melvin Mora -- the game's only extra-base hit -- and came back to walk Huff. Mora wound up tagging to third on a deep fly ball and scoring on a potential double-play ball to shortstop.

Oakland's Bobby Crosby didn't even look at second on the play, looking home and then firing to first base for the out. Street got out of the inning after that, and reliever Joey Devine pitched a scoreless 10th inning. Baltimore turned to rookie Jim Johnson for the final two innings, and Oakland's final run broke an 18-inning scoreless streak for the right-hander.

"I had that feeling in the sixth inning," said Huff, referring to the close nature of the game. "We're just not scoring runs for our guys. ... Our young guys in the 'pen are keeping us in it, our starters are keeping us in it. We're just not scoring."

The loss pushed the Orioles to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season, but they got encouraging news from Olson's second start. The rookie struck out seven batters -- a season-high for Baltimore's rotation. The southpaw walked just one batter for the first time in nine big league starts.

"I feel more relaxed out there. I just feel like I'm trying to challenge hitters more and rely on my stuff and we'll see what happens," Olson said. "I just feel more consistent with myself. You always don't know what you're going to have when you go out there every day. But I feel like if I just go after hitters, you can find your stuff sometime in the game."

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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