Berken sharp, but O's bats made quiet

Berken sharp, but O's bats made quiet

BALTIMORE -- Jason Berken certainly didn't look like someone making his second Major League start Sunday afternoon. He moved the ball around effectively, repeatedly made good pitches and gave the Orioles seven strong innings against the Tigers.

But as good as Berken threw, Detroit starter Edwin Jackson was just a little bit better. Baltimore scored an average of six runs per game in the first six games of this homestand, but it could do nothing against Jackson. He allowed just two hits and three baserunners through eight innings as the Tigers defeated the Orioles, 3-0, before 32,233 at Oriole Park.

Berken (1-1) gave up two runs on seven hits in five innings in his Major League debut last week against the Blue Jays. But he was much sharper in this game. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings. Berken threw 102 pitches, 61 for strikes and got into trouble just one time.

"Berken pitched a very good game," said manager Dave Trembley. "We'll take those kind of outings from our starters all the time. He pitched very well."

The right-hander made only one costly mistake, giving up a solo homer to Curtis Granderson with one out in the fourth to give the Tigers (28-21) a 1-0 lead. Berken then allowed a single to Jeff Larish and hit Brandon Inge to put runners on first and second before he settled down to retire the final two batters and get out of the inning.

Berken didn't give up a hit in the final three innings he pitched.

"I felt I threw the ball pretty well," Berken said. "Just knowing what to expect helped me out a lot. I think I felt a little more under control. I think the game slowed down a little bit for me today, and I was able to keep the ball down a little better."

The Orioles just couldn't do much to help him offensively, as Jackson and Fernando Rodney combined on a two-hitter. Jackson (5-3) dominated Baltimore (23-28), striking out seven and walking only one in his eight innings. This came one day after the Orioles battled hard-throwing Justin Verlander and fell, 6-3, on Saturday night.

"Honestly, I've played nine years, and the last two guys are probably the best back-to-back I've seen in nine years," first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "You've got four guys throwing 100 [mph] out of the 'pen. You just don't see that kind of stuff every day."

Jackson retired the first 11 Orioles before Nick Markakis got a two-out single in the fourth. Robert Andino walked in the sixth but was thrown out stealing moments later. Ty Wigginton doubled to open the eighth, but Jackson retired the next three in a row.

Rodney gave up a walk to Adam Jones in the ninth but had no trouble in closing out his 10th save. The Orioles went just 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left only three on base. They had just four baserunners the entire game.

The Tigers got some crucial insurance runs in the last two innings. Danys Baez took over in the eighth, and Magglio Ordonez drew a one-out walk. Larish later drove him in with a two-out double.

Detroit made it 3-0 in the ninth, using a similar formula against Mark Hendrickson. Adam Everett walked with two outs, and Clete Thomas lined an RBI double to left-center.

Luke Scott saw his four-game homer streak end when he went 0-for-3. That also stopped his seven-game hitting streak. Huff (eight), Brian Roberts (seven) and Cesar Izturis (five) also had hitting streaks come to an end on a day when the offense didn't do much.

But Trembley was happy with what he saw from the Orioles in a 5-2 homestand. They swept a three-game series against the Blue Jays and split with the Tigers, two strong teams.

In addition, the Baltimore brought up two pitchers from the Minors, asked them to come through -- and they did. Berken gave them two good starts, and David Hernandez added another. Plus, the long-awaited debut of catcher Matt Wieters took place this weekend, and it's easy to see why he's a good player.

"We had a good week; we've gotten better," Trembley said. "We're not going to let these last two games put a damper on all the progress that we've made this week. I've seen a lot of progress."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.