O's offensive woes continue in loss to Yanks

O's offensive woes continue in loss to Yanks

BALTIMORE -- Starter Brian Matusz wasn't as sharp on Thursday night as he would have liked, but given how his counterpart, A.J. Burnett, pitched, it probably wouldn't have mattered.

Burnett handcuffed the Orioles' offense, allowing just three hits over eight innings to hand Baltimore a 4-0 series loss in front of a Yankees-fan-heavy crowd of 26,439 at Camden Yards.

"That guy has so much talent, when he has a day like this, it's hard," third baseman Miguel Tejada said of Burnett. "He was on his game today. He threw everything he wanted, where he wanted. I don't think he missed a pitch. Today was his day."

There have been quite a few days at Camden Yards like that for Burnett, who improved to 5-0 in seven career starts in Baltimore. In 14 total outings against the Orioles, he is 10-2, picking up the double-digit "W" with Thursday's impressive 116-pitch outing.

"He had to work, but he didn't lose anything from the first inning to the eighth," manager Dave Trembley said. "He didn't lose anything. Probably got better."

Burnett pounded his fastball -- which was consistently clocked in the mid-90s -- on the inside corner of the plate, using it to set up a filthy breaking ball. The Orioles recorded only two hits off Burnett in the first five innings, both of them coming with two outs.

Their best shot to score came in the sixth, when Cesar Izturis hit a leadoff single and, one out later, Nick Markakis walked. Matt Wieters narrowly avoided the double play -- thanks to a hard slide at second by Markakis -- extending the inning for Tejada. But Tejada flied out to the warning track in center field to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard.

"[Burnett] was just going after everybody," Tejada said. "We hit a couple of balls hard, but they were outs. It was one of those days where the pitcher had control."

Nearly lost in Burnett's brilliance was the performance of Matusz. The 23-year-old lefty tossed a gutsy six innings, yielding three runs on nine hits to the defending World Series champions.

Matusz allowed a run in the first and surrendered a one-out homer to the red-hot Robinson Cano in the fourth. Marcus Thames followed with a single, and Francisco Cervelli's two-out single -- which deflected off Ty Wigginton's glove and into the outfield -- kept the Yankees threatening with runners on the corners. Matusz struck out Brett Gardner to minimize the damage and showed incredible poise on the hill, making big pitches with runners on base and never allowing the Yankees to post a multirun inning.

"That's his strength," Trembley said. "He bears down, his focus is very good. He makes quality pitches in tough situations. He went around that lineup, and he didn't have any easy outs."

Among the toughest outs on Thursday was Cano. After his fourth-inning homer, Cano connected for a double in the sixth to spark chants of "Let's go Yankees." The cheering only got louder when Thames doubled him home to give New York a three-run lead.

"All those hits he had today, they [were off] different pitches in different locations," Matusz said of Cano. "It was back-to-back curveballs, and I left it up. He did a good job of just taking care of that [in the fourth], but I thought the next at-bat, I located a fastball down and away pretty well, and he almost hit it out of the park.

"He just got great extension. He's covering the plate on the inside part of the plate and away. He's a tough out."

Cano also homered off reliever Alberto Castillo for the game's fourth and final run, raising his season average to an astounding .407.

"We couldn't get him out, and the way he's hitting right now, no one in the American League is getting him out," Trembley said. "He's a quality player."

Quality is a good word to describe the opponents facing the Orioles, who are midway through a 12-game stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox. The offense is mired in a season-long struggle to produce any sort of timely hitting.

The Orioles went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position on Thursday to lower their Major League-worst average to .193 (34-for-176). They're hitting .150 (13-for-87) with runners in scoring position and two outs and have been outscored by opponents 114-70.

Matusz was just the latest starter to have a solid outing result in a loss, a loss that snapped his six-game winning streak.

"I don't sense that [the starters are frustrated by the offense]," Trembley said. "I don't feel that. I don't hear that."

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