Angels 7, Orioles 4
Two teams heading in opposite directions continued on their paths Saturday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and starting pitching told the story for each.
Jarrod Washburn yielded just three hits in eight innings to lead the Anaheim Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, who have lost four of their past five games and continue to search for consistency from their starters.
While Washburn (7-1) won his sixth straight start and joined the Houston Astros' Roger Clemens as the major leagues' only seven-game winners, Eric DuBose yielded a season-high seven runs on 10 hits before being pulled with two outs in the fourth inning.
A day after Manager Lee Mazzilli criticized the Orioles (17-16) after they fell behind by nine runs in the first two innings, they spotted Anaheim another commanding lead early. Baltimore's starters have allowed 88 earned runs in just more than 102 innings during the past 20 games and will enter Sunday's series finale with the worst ERA in the league at 7.74.
"It seems what happened [last night] is happening like that too often," Mazzilli said. "I'm baffled."
DuBose (3-3), who has yielded 16 runs in his last four starts -- a span of 122/3 innings, retired just two batters in the fourth inning, and at one point allowed seven consecutive batters to reach base before being relieved by Darwin Cubillan. Cubillan had arrived from Class AAA Ottawa just hours before the game to take the roster spot vacated by starting pitcher Kurt Ainsworth, who was optioned to the Lynx after yielding nine runs in 11/3 innings Friday night.
The American League West Division-leading Angels improved to 25-12, tying their best start in team history after 37 games, despite playing without four of their top starters -- Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus and Tim Salmon.
Just when it appeared DuBose had settled into a groove, right fielder Vladimir Guerrero (3 for 3, two runs scored) opened the fourth inning by singling to center. DuBose retired the next two hitters and almost got out of the inning when Jose Molina hit a deep fly ball to right field. It appeared Jose Bautista was going to make the catch, but he mistimed his jump and the ball caromed off the wall for a run-scoring double.
"He whiffed it: We thought he had it, and he lost it," Mazzilli said. "But that does not change how you go about playing the rest of the game."
Things only got worse from there. Shane Halter belted a two-run home run to center, Robb Quinlan walked and David Eckstein (2 for 4, one run scored) singled to right, setting the stage for Alfredo Amezaga's run-scoring single to push the lead to 5-0.
But the big blow came from Chone Figgins, who followed Friday's six-RBI performance with a two-run single, bringing boos from the crowd of 40,275. Guerrero singled in his second at-bat of the inning, which prompted Mazzilli to emerge from the dugout to end DuBose's night.
"I should have smelled blood in the water and got that third out," DuBose said. "I made some mistakes and they were inexcusable."
In the bottom of the inning, Miguel Tejada (2 for 4) hit a two-run home run to left field, but Washburn remained in control, striking out five and walking none before being relieved by Ben Weber in the ninth.
Trailing 7-2 in the ninth, the Orioles tried to rally when with one out Melvin Mora hit a solo home run off Weber and Tejada reached on an error and moved to third when Rafael Palmeiro doubled off the right field wall. Closer Troy Percival yielded an infield single to Javy Lopez that scored Tejada.
But that's as close as the Orioles would get, as Percival got Matos to ground into a game-ending double play to pick up his 10th save.
Orioles Notes: Cubillan, pitching in the major leagues for the first time since 2001 when he was with Montreal, made up for lost time by allowing one hit and a walk in 31/3 innings after posting a 4.02 ERA in 16 games in Ottawa.
The Orioles will look to fix their struggling starting rotation by promoting their best reliever, Rodrigo Lopez, who was a starter last year but was moved to the bullpen after spring training. Lopez has pitched fabulously in relief, as he leads the league's relievers with a 0.33 ERA in 271/3 innings. Lopez's presence in the bullpen had transformed one of the Orioles' biggest weaknesses into one of their biggest strengths. The Orioles' relievers entered Saturday night leading the American League in innings (1311/3), wins (10) and strikeouts (122) and are third with a 3.15 ERA.
"I think I sent the message," said Mazzilli, when asked if Ainsworth's demotion was a warning sign to his other starting pitchers. "I don't have any plans on making any more changes in the starting rotation."