"I think he's extremely frustrated," said catcher Gregg Zaun, who ushered Guthrie through the start. "He probably had higher hopes for what would happen, especially for how he pitched down the stretch last year. It looked like he didn't get a whole lot of run support because he had an ERA under 4.00 and he had a losing record.
"And tonight was no different. He pitched a heck of a ballgame, and under normal circumstances -- if we swing the bats the way we're capable of -- he gets a win out of that. But we ran into a buzz saw."
That buzz saw was named Edwin Jackson, and he had shut out the Orioles (45-62) for eight innings earlier in the year. Jackson did the same thing on Wednesday night, folding only for a two-run home run in the ninth inning. And Guthrie matched him for most of the night, save for an early home run and an eighth-inning rally.
Guthrie (7-11) didn't allow a runner to reach scoring position in the first four innings, but he did allow Detroit's Magglio Ordonez to hit a solo home run to left field in the fifth. That shot gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead, and perhaps more tellingly, it meant that Guthrie has allowed a home run in six straight starts and in 17 of his past 22.
The former first-round Draft pick kept the score the same into the seventh inning, when he got a 5-4-3 double play to end a potential Detroit rally. The Tigers (56-50) managed to score three runs in the eighth -- two of which were charged to Guthrie -- and Baltimore wound up leaving the tying run on base in the ninth.
Guthrie, who never before had ducked the media, chose to leave one brief enigmatic statement.
"I had good command of my fastball, kept the slider down," he said through Baltimore's public relations representative. "The guys battled for me, and Edwin Jackson just outlasted me."
"That's how you expect him to pitch," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "He matched Jackson, who was at the top of his game tonight. And Guthrie was equally as impressive. He really was."
Jackson, an All-Star this season, set about showing the Orioles how he got there. The right-hander stranded two runners in scoring position in the first two innings and held Baltimore to two hits through the seventh. He came back out for the ninth and left after hitting a batter and surrendering a two-run homer to Adam Jones.
"He had A-plus stuff," said O's designated hitter Luke Scott. "He had a 95-to-98 mph fastball working. He had good location with it. He had a tough slider, tough curveball [and] mixed in the changeup. There really wasn't any mistakes to hit."
"One run might've done it the way Jackson was pitching," added Trembley. "Jones had a great at-bat off him in the ninth, but he didn't give us too many opportunities at all. It's the second time this year he's done that."
Still, despite Jackson's dominance, the Orioles were in it all the way to the end. Aubrey Huff netted a single off Tigers closer Fernando Rodney, and Scott drew a two-out walk to make things interesting. Zaun then engaged in an extended at-bat against Rodney, but he wound up striking out on a fastball down the middle.
"I was sitting on something else," said Zaun. "He's a guy that has the ability to throw the ball in the upper 90s, but he had been wild with his fastball the entire inning. Every time he needed to throw a strike, he went to the changeup. When you face a guy that throws 97 and has an 82-84 mph changeup, you've got to pick one or the other. I made an educated guess, and I was betting that he wasn't going to be able to throw a strike with his fastball."
Guthrie, who has allowed more home runs (27) than any American League starter, joined some difficult company by refusing to talk to the media. Only three other Baltimore starters -- Daniel Cabrera, Sidney Ponson and Erik Bedard -- have done so in recent seasons. Bedard was called on the carpet by Trembley the next day.