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Orioles unable to avoid sweep

Orioles unable to avoid sweep

TORONTO -- The Orioles lost another close one on Sunday, this time a 4-3 decision to the Blue Jays, who completed a three-game sweep before 20,418 at Rogers Centre.

The Orioles were left shaking their heads, wondering what to do to break this funk that has them with six straight losses and nine in their past 11 games.

This one hurt because it came despite a complete game from Jeremy Guthrie (2-2). Also, all of Toronto's runs came with two outs, including Vernon Wells' two-run home run in the first inning, the back-to-back doubles by Lyle Overbay and Rod Barajas in the fourth and Alex Rios' go-ahead homer in the fifth.

Blue Jays starter Scott Richmond (4-0) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits over seven innings, and the Orioles were impressed with the way he was able to change speeds and move the ball around.

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was ejected for the second time this season and for the eighth time in his career after Aubrey Huff was upset with home-plate umpire Chris Tiller's called third strike that ended the top of the fifth.

"Give them credit in this series," Trembley said. "They pitched well, they got the hit when it counted, they got hits with two outs and we didn't."

Trembley was asked if this might be the time for a team meeting. The Orioles open a series against the Rays on Monday at Tropicana Field.

"We'll think about it on the plane," Trembley said. "I think these guys are mature enough. No one likes losing, and we've lost in a variety of ways. A lot of people are frustrated with it. We'll channel our disappointment in a more positive way. We just need to play better baseball and start winning some games. We know we have a very good offensive club."

Luke Scott hit a two-run homer in the second inning to tie the game on one of Richmond's few mistakes, a four-seam fastball that was intended to be down and away but found itself middle-in and thigh-high and quickly left the park on a line.

The O's third run was unearned, as Cesar Izturis scored from second base on Nick Markakis' infield hit that was fielded by the catcher. Barajas had no chance to get the out, but he threw the ball to first, and it sailed high for an error. Markakis has reached base in 34 straight games.

Richmond and relievers Jesse Carlson and Scott Downs shut the Orioles down the rest of the way.

"He moved the ball around, changed speeds, had a big zone to work with [and] took advantage of it," Scott said, assessing Richmond. "As hitters, we make a living hitting balls that are up in the zone, out over the plate, and there wasn't really that much today."

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora does not feel the team is pressing.

"I don't think so," Mora said. "We've got a lot of veteran guys here and we have been in tough situations before."

"You don't want to press," Scott said. "You just want to go out there and get back to having fun, play the game loose and kind of let the game come to us. Don't force it. Don't go out there with a negative attitude. Don't carry the weight; just kind of shake it off. ... I'd say all of us [are pressing] in a way, of course. We're human. Just because we're blessed to play this game doesn't mean that we're different from anybody else when we go through tough times, whatever it may be. There's pressure, there's weight there. It's tough to carry. You have to learn to shake it off. It's a tough thing to handle."

"If you're in one-run games, it means you're playing good ballgames," Guthrie said. "It means there are things we can do better to win those games. I think it's better to lose one-run games than to lose blowouts. We are closer than maybe we have been in the past to turning that momentum around in the Orioles' favor. That's what we're trying to do. It's one or two pitches here; it's one at-bat or two at-bats there. We're close."

Trembley said he did not argue balls and strikes when he was tossed from the game.

"I didn't argue balls and strikes," Trembley said. "I was trying to keep Huff in the game. He said it was an equipment violation, which I understand, and then he said, 'Don't come out here and argue balls and strikes.' And I turned around and went back in the dugout."

Then Trembley learned he was thrown out and went back out to say his piece.

The O's manager praised Richmond's pitching.

"He changed speeds very well," Trembley said. "His breaking ball and changeup were very good. He widened the strike zone -- ha, ha, ha -- enough said. When you get thrown out, you can watch the games on TV. You can't say anything. That's the way it is and move on."

Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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