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Guthrie struggles as O's routed by A's

Guthrie struggles as O's routed by A's

BALTIMORE -- The stuff is fine and so is the delivery. And still, Jeremy Guthrie finds himself searching for success.

The Orioles' Opening Day starter saw his season hit another sour note on Monday, when he couldn't hold down one of the league's weakest hitting lineups and was removed early in a 9-1 loss to the A's.

Guthrie, who had pitched well in his latest start, saw his stat line mushroom in several categories. The right-hander had already led the American League in home runs allowed (27) before Monday night, and he added a share of the league lead in losses (12) and earned runs allowed (81) in the series-opening loss.

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"I've been consistently inconsistent. I wish I could change the story," said Guthrie, who had skipped the customary media briefing after his past start. "I tried to change up my routine. I didn't talk to you guys last time. I felt like, 'Well, maybe I had a good one. Let it simmer inside for five days and not talk about it. See if that works out.' Obviously that didn't work, either. It's not for a lack of trying. I'm trying to come up with solutions."

Guthrie used a different changeup Monday night, one he feels gives him better separation from his fastball. But still, the results were the same. The former first-round Draft pick didn't allow a home run for the first time in seven starts, but he gave up a season-high 11 hits and couldn't escape a three-run rally in the fifth inning.

The A's (50-62) began their onslaught in the second inning, notching four consecutive hits against Guthrie (7-12) and taking a two-run lead. Oakland came back for more in the fifth, and Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis combined for two run-scoring hits. All nine of Oakland's starters notched at least one hit, and five different players scored.

"We had some good at-bats," said Ellis, who had five hits and four RBIs. "We had some good opportunities, especially with guys in scoring position. We were able to take advantage of the situations and we just had good at-bats overall."

Indeed they were, but part of that was due to Guthrie's inability to put batters away. The right-hander ran up a high pitch count early and struck out just two batters over the life of his performance. And while Guthrie doesn't consider himself a strikeout pitcher, he does think that his stuff is good enough to go after people.

"I throw strikes. I try to let them put it in play," Guthrie said. "Unfortunately tonight, those players did not put them in play. They fouled them off, fouled them off and ended up with a base hit. ... I'm not a guy that has plus-plus stuff and blows it by people and makes the perfect pitch to get people out. I haven't been that guy, nor will I try to be that guy, because that's when I'll get in trouble and start walking people. It's their fault."

"He got four ground balls in the first inning," added manager Dave Trembley. "I can't remember the last time that happened in the first inning for him. Usually, he's pitching up, and then as the game goes on he adjusts from there. But right from the first inning he was down. They must have seen him good. They just kept fouling them off."

And for Guthrie, that just feeds into a confounding series of events. The 30-year-old said he's happy with his mechanics and with his delivery, even if he's not thrilled with his stuff. And he said things have been the same for him all season, starting with his struggles in the World Baseball Classic and continuing into April.

"I didn't start well in the Classic and I haven't pitched well for more than one or two games at a time," Guthrie said. "It's not for lack of work. It's not for lack of attempts to do anything I can to switch it. I've got some real tough things going on with luck, and with execution and with the things I can control and the things I can't control. Nothing's gone my way.

"The only thing I can control is how much I work and how much more I improve. Some nights it's there and some nights, it's not. That's the sign of this being a very difficult game. That's no excuse, but it is motivation."

The Orioles (46-66) couldn't get much going against Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez and left runners stranded in five of the first six innings. Baltimore got runners to second and third with one out in the third inning and wasn't able to score, and the home team put two runners on base in the seventh before rain delayed the game.

The delay lasted 52 minutes, and Oakland's Craig Breslow killed the rally with two short fly balls and a grounder back to the box. Baltimore went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position during the first seven innings before snapping the shutout with a home run in the ninth. By that point, the A's held a commanding eight-run lead.

"I think it all kind of comes to a head the last play of the game," said Trembley of his team's offensive struggles. "The guy hits one right on the button and almost knocks the guy's cap off, and he catches it and it's a double play. Hopefully we are through with it and we turn the corner and come out tomorrow and score some runs."

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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