O's seek turnaround in Interleague

O's seek turnaround in Interleague

BALTIMORE -- It's that time of year again.

The time when American League pitchers have their only at-bats of the season. A time when the National League is introduced to the designated hitter.

Interleague Play resumes with the Orioles hosting the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three-game series.

The Braves continue to hover around the .500 mark. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, but have lost two in a row heading into the series opener.

The Orioles, on the other hand, have fallen to a season-worst 10 games below .500, and are currently 11 games behind division-leading Boston. Baltimore has lost seven of its last eight games.

Offensive woes continue to be the problem for the Orioles. After achieving a five-game win streak from May 25-29, a streak in which the offense put up 38 runs, the Orioles offense has scored just 16 runs in the last eight games.

It's easy to pick out guys in the lineup that are slumping, but both Orioles manager Dave Trembley and members of the team recognize that the lack of production is team-wide. Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis said after Thursday's game he hasn't seen a slump this bad during his time in Baltimore.

"Yea, as far I've been playing," Markakis said. "But we're bound to come out of it sometime, and once everybody's hitting, I think we'll be fine."

Markakis said the most frustrating part of the slump is the fact that players are hitting the ball hard, but the breaks aren't coming, a factor Markakis said he hopes will fix itself with the start of Interleague Play.

"We got a couple of guys in scoring position [Thursday]," Markakis said. "I, myself, had three guys in scoring position and I just didn't get it done. It's behind me, and we just have to look forward to the next game."

Last season, the Orioles were 11-7 in Interleague Play, scoring 96 runs and allowing 78.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jason Berken (1-2, 7.04 ERA)
Berken has experienced a lot in his first three Major League starts. He has pitched well and lost and pitched so-so and won, but he was hit hard by the A's in his last appearance, giving up nine runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings. There's little question that Berken has the stuff to be a Major League pitcher; he just may have to learn the hard way.

ATL: RHP Tommy Hanson (0-0, 9.00 ERA)
After proving perfect and dominant during the first three innings of his Major League debut on Sunday, Hanson struggled to command his fastball and surrendered three two-run homers. The hard-throwing right-hander, who is considered one of the game's top pitching prospects, needed 31 pitches to complete his first three innings and 60 to complete his final three. With a plus slider and an effective curve, he can be dominant if he can consistently get ahead in the count. Hanson's fastball rests around 95 mph and was clocked as high as 97 mph during his debut against the Brewers.

Tidbits
Luke Scott hit his 14th home run of the season in the first inning Thursday. Scott has hit seven of the Orioles' last nine home runs. ... Orioles reliever Brian Bass pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs. Those runs matched the number of earned runs he had allowed in his previous nine appearances combined. ... The Orioles have been held to three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 11 games. The 1955 Orioles went 16 straight games scoring three runs or less from June 15-July 3.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN HD

On radio
• 105.7 The Fan

Up next
• Saturday: Orioles (Rich Hill, 2-1, 5.24) vs. Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 3-6, 4.62), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 3-2, 4.04) vs. Braves (Derek Lowe, 7-3, 3.44), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.