Lineup shuffle doesn't pay off

Lineup shuffle doesn't pay off

BALTIMORE -- No spark, no shot. The Orioles shuffled their lineup and still came up with the same song on Friday, when their offense provided a tepid showing in the series opener against the Rangers. Brian Roberts moved out of the leadoff spot for the first time in five years and drove in Baltimore's only run in a 5-1 defeat.

Roberts, who hadn't batted in a slot other than leadoff since August 2004, moved down in the order to help the Orioles (54-81) cover the loss of Adam Jones and to protect cleanup man Nick Markakis. The gambit didn't really work, though, as Baltimore netted just two hits in the first five innings against Scott Feldman.

Markakis went 0-for-4 and didn't reach base for just the 20th time in his 134 games. The right fielder came up with men on base in three separate innings and made the final out in two of them.

"Offensively, we didn't have much going at all," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley of his team's effort. "I think we had two real opportunities, and both with two outs. And you're counting on the guy you've been counting on all year and he just doesn't get a hit tonight, so it seems like everything is going south for you."

The Rangers, meanwhile, took a lead in the first inning against Orioles starter Chris Tillman and never looked back. Texas (76-58) used a three-run burst in the fourth -- fueled by a run-scoring single from Ivan Rodriguez and a two-run double by Chris Davis -- to push even further ahead. Nelson Cruz added a solo homer in the sixth.

"I didn't feel like I had any of my stuff," said Tillman, whose record sank to 1-3. "In the beginning on the curveball, I had the right spin. It just wasn't the right location. It was pulling off a little bit. When I did throw for strikes and got ahead, I was fine. It was just a matter of throwing it for strikes when I didn't early in the game."

Baltimore's best chance for a rally came in the sixth, when Feldman (15-4) gave up two consecutive one-out walks. Roberts dumped a two-out single to push one run home, but Markakis popped up to end the threat. The Orioles got another two runners on base in the seventh, but reliever Neftali Feliz struck out Ty Wigginton.

Feldman has now won seven consecutive road decisions, and his 11 road victories this season ties the Texas franchise record shared by Rick Helling and Vicente Padilla. The right-hander tied New York's CC Sabathia -- who beat the Orioles in Camden Yards on Wednesday -- for the most road wins of any American League starter.

"I can tell you that Feldman is really improved," said Trembley. "We've seen him earlier and I can see why he's won 15 games. He doubles up real good with all of his pitches. Very good command. Pitches in hard with his fastball. Got command of his breaking pitch. Pitched a nice game."

And if Feldman wasn't tough enough, the Rangers ratcheted up the level of difficulty by bringing in Feliz. The rookie continued his dominance of Major League hitters by getting seven outs without allowing a baserunner. Feliz has thrown 19 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, the second-longest active streak in the Majors.

"He's obviously blessed with a big-time arm," said Wigginton of Feliz, who has 28 strikeouts and just one walk this season. "Not a whole lot of people come out throwing 100 mph. I'm pinch-hitting, and I'm thinking that I'll get the head on a first-pitch fastball. He was one step ahead and dropped a slow curveball on me."

"I've been watching him on tape and he's even more impressive when you see him in person," added Trembley. "The ball really explodes out of his hand. And effortless. Great changeup and 100 mph fastball."

Tillman, who is expected to get two more starts before shutting down for the season, completed six innings for the fifth time in eight starts and seemed to grow stronger as the night progressed. The right-hander said he felt like he had great stuff in the bullpen, only to see it dissipate when he stepped onto the starting rubber.

"The walks killed me tonight," said the 21-year-old, who walked three batters. "Even in the fourth inning, if we turn that double play, it's a 2-1 game going into the ninth inning. So I came up just short of the bag. Those walks definitely killed me. I felt like things could've come out a little bit different out of that, but it is what it is."

The Rangers and Orioles engaged in a bit of gamesmanship that briefly delayed the game. Right after Feldman had warmed up in the bottom of the second, he was told that he needed to switch out of a light-colored glove. Later in the game, Baltimore reliever Cla Meredith was told that he needed to choose a darker glove of his own.

"It's a white glove. You can't do that. We've got the right guy here to make sure that's enforced," said Trembley of umpire Joe West. "Country Joe is going to make sure that's taken care of. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. We had to do it with Feldman, so then they had to do it with Cla, and he's absolutely right. That's the rule and those guys were told in Spring Training not to do that. He was absolutely right to enforce that."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.