Bullpen unable to hold lead in O's loss

Bullpen unable to hold lead in O's loss

BALTIMORE -- Line drives, long flies and loud outs. Baltimore starter Brian Burres worked with little or no margin for error on Saturday night, serving up plenty of hittable pitches to one of the best batting orders in the league. Burres got just three ground balls in his outing, but the Rangers didn't pull ahead until right after he left in a 5-3 win over the Orioles.

Lance Cormier took the ball from Burres with two outs in the sixth inning but served up a home run to Ian Kinsler, the first batter he faced. Kinsler's shot traveled over the left-field fence and put Texas ahead for the first time since the first inning. The Orioles had a few chances to tie the game in the later innings, but the Rangers kept them from converting.

"I'm glad I can still keep my pitch count down and have a chance to pitch as deep as I could in the game," said Burres. "That was the one thing I did feel pretty good about. They had guys on base every inning or they hit some balls hard. Melvin [Mora] made some great plays over at third. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping them from scoring."

The night started eventfully for the southpaw, who allowed hits to the first three batters he faced. Burres allowed the Rangers to load the bases in the first inning, but he gave up one run and stranded three men on base. Texas (45-43) scored again in the second, but Burres escaped on a long fly to right field that was caught a few feet in front of the fence.

"I would dare say that the way the game started out, it looked like there was going to be a whole lot more runs scored than there was," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "I thought Burres was fortunate to get out of some innings.

"There were a lot of hard hit balls with some very good plays behind him, and obviously we wish we would have had the at-bat back against Kinsler and the result would have been a little different."

Baltimore (44-42) had scored three times in the first inning, allowing Burres the luxury of a lead. And he made it stand up in the third and fourth, stranding a runner at second base in both of those innings. The left-hander got through the fifth on a pair of laser beam line drives to third base, but he left in the sixth with two outs and a man on second base.

"[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] told me in the first inning that it didn't look like he had very much," Trembley said of his starter's performance. "His arm-speed wasn't what it has been. He didn't get left-handed hitters out and the guy that's hitting in the nine slot got on base four times which let that lineup come over and over and over again. I thought the fourth inning was probably a little better for him but I just didn't see that he had a lot of finish on his pitches."

Texas starter Scott Feldman endured the same kind of rocky beginning as Burres, allowing the first three batters he faced to net hits. Right fielder Nick Markakis drilled a two-run double in the first and scored on a sacrifice fly, but Feldman (3-3) settled down and pitched through the sixth inning, limiting the Orioles to just two more runners in scoring position.

Baltimore pushed runners to first and third in the seventh, but designated hitter Aubrey Huff grounded out to end the threat. Texas loaded the bases and scored an insurance run in the eighth, and then closer C.J. Wilson struck out three batters in the ninth to earn his 20th save of the year. The win, though, could be directly traced back to the starting pitcher.

"He got us out," left fielder Jay Payton said of Feldman. "He started using his breaking ball a little bit more and he was locating his heater a little better and we weren't able to square him up the way we did in the first inning."

"Give Feldman a lot of credit because he settled down," added Trembley. "I thought both he and Burres were pitching too much in the middle of the plate early in the game and Feldman made some adjustments."

Perhaps the game's key moment came right before the Orioles went to Cormier. Burres had retired 10 of his last 11 batters, but third baseman German Duran lined a ball hard to left field. Payton made a long run to get there and almost made a highlight reel catch, but the ball popped into and out of his glove for a double. A few minutes later, Kinsler went deep.

"I was just lucky to get to it," said Payton of the game's key play, noting how much ground he covered. "I'm not making excuses. I got a glove on it, I think I should catch it, but it was just one of those balls. When you're running that hard, the ball's bouncing all over the place. I stuck my glove out and it got in there, but it didn't stick."

From there, Trembley made the fateful decision to go to Cormier, who hadn't allowed a home run since May 7.

"If anybody's had the hot hand down there it's been him," said Trembley. "I've already looked at the pitches. All the pitches he tried to get away from him, [and the] 3-1 pitch just got too much in the middle of the plate."

"I just came out there throwing cutters," Cormier said. "Sometimes they're going to be right where you want them. Sometimes they're not. He took pitches, worked a good count and swung 3-0. That was kind of unexpected, but he's leading the league in hitting so he's doing something right. I didn't throw the right pitch, I guess."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.