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Uehara injured in loss to Angels

Uehara injured in loss to Angels

BALTIMORE -- Koji Uehara saw his season flash in front of his eyes on Wednesday, moving with the malicious speed of a line drive back to the box. Uehara gave up two long home runs and was hit in the sternum by a liner in the seventh inning, spurring his early exit in a 3-2 loss to the Angels.

"He's one tough son of a gun," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "He got it pretty good. We were all concerned. I thought it might have got him in the ribs. It didn't. It got him in the chest."

It certainly did, and for a few moments, nobody was sure how badly he'd been hurt. Uehara tried to fight off the immediate effects of the liner, chasing the ball until his legs couldn't carry him any further. Uehara wound up bent over between the mound and the first-base line, where he stayed once the play was over.

Baltimore's athletic trainers -- Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel -- came out to check on Uehara, who was subsequently able to leave the field under his own power. The Orioles immediately subjected him to an X-ray, which showed a bruised sternum that shouldn't sideline him for any length of time.

In fact, Uehara said that the home runs he allowed bothered him more than his health. Both Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales took him deep in the seventh, a fact that preoccupied him after the game.

"The one I gave up to [Torii] Hunter is obviously the big mistake," said Uehara via interpreter Jiwon Bang. "The second one, I was trying to go up intentionally, but the velocity wasn't there."

And in reality, that was the entire game all wrapped up in a four-batter sequence. Uehara went into the seventh locked into a 1-1 duel with Los Angeles starter Shane Loux, but Hunter broke the deadlock with a blast to deep left field. Morales followed by drilling a shot to straightaway center, giving the Angels a two-run lead.

Howard Kendrick followed with a blast to left field, but one that the stadium was able to contain. Moments later, Gary Matthews rifled a ball back through the box, catching Uehara and knocking him to the ground.

"Right away when I got hit, I couldn't breathe for a moment," said Uehara, describing the immediate effect of the line drive. "But after a while, I was fine. Everything stopped for a moment."

Los Angeles (9-11) had also scored off Uehara in the fourth inning, courtesy of a two-out triple by Morales that traveled over the head of center fielder Adam Jones. Beyond that mistake -- and the twin long balls by Hunter and Morales in the seventh -- Uehara (2-2) pretty much held his own for most of the day.

"[There are] three pitches he probably wants back," said Trembley. "It looked like his location was a little bit different [in the seventh] than it had been the previous innings. I thought he was pitching down very good. ... The guy throws 100 pitches and makes three bad ones, not much you can do about that. I'll take that any day."

"We didn't get the runs in when we needed to and Koji gave us a great chance to win," said catcher Chad Moeller. "I thought he was going to be through that inning without a problem. ... We went with a cutter/slider to Torii and it just stayed over the plate. And two strikes for Morales, we tried to elevate and it went right down the middle."

The Orioles (9-13) loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning and came away with a sacrifice fly. Moeller then tripled to start the second but was then erased at home on a fielder's choice. Loux retired 13 out of 14 batters at one point, and the Angels handled Baltimore in the late innings to seal the win.

Loux (1-2) kept the Orioles from getting anything at all in the middle innings, keeping Baltimore with just one baserunner in between the third and the sixth innings. The Orioles made a late charge with an isolated run in the eighth inning, but Brian Fuentes retired the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

When asked about his team's inability to break the game open early, Trembley gave credit to Loux.

"I'd rather say he made the big pitches and got the outs," he said. "We've got very good guys up at the plate. You can't direct the ball. You hit it hard and they catch it or you hit it hard right at somebody, that's just the way the game goes. It's not that we were swinging at bad pitches, it's not that we were giving at-bats away."

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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