Rockies 11, Orioles 6
-- You knew exactly what Jerry Hairston was thinking, and the intent was laudable. The Baltimore Orioles needed a hero. They were down by three runs Saturday night to the Colorado Rockies. They had not gotten a runner home from third base, where Hairston now stood, in what seemed like a week. Their season was rapidly wasting away into nothingness.
So Hairston, bless his heart, tried to steal home.
Ninety feet later, he ran smack into the catcher's knee-pad and smack into an out. His face at that moment, as it gazed up from the dirt, was the face of the Orioles: helpless, dazed, defeated.
"Sometimes," Hairston said, "you have to push the envelope."
So, the Orioles' losing streak reached seven games, with an unsightly 11-6 loss to the lowly Rockies in front of 33,326 at Coors Field. The Orioles have lost 14 of 17 games to fall into last place in the American League East.
Each day, the Orioles seem intent on proving the previous low point was not actually the absolute rock-bottom, and each day they succeed.
Orioles left-hander Eric DuBose (4-6) turned in another short, ineffective outing, getting knocked out in the fourth inning after barely surviving the third, during which the Rockies scored five runs. DuBose's last two starts have seen him give up a combined 12 hits, 7 walks and 15 earned runs in only six innings, while his season ERA climbed to a Ponson-esque 6.39.
DuBose was outpitched on this night by 41-year-old left-hander Jeff Fassero, who had lost 10 straight decisions dating from 2003 and had not won as a starter since 2000. Fassero (1-6) was the fourth in a string of five left-handed starters the Orioles are facing on this road trip; they are 6-14 in games started by lefties.
Still, nothing symbolized the Orioles' plight on this night better than Hairston's ill-fated dash for home with two outs in the fourth inning. With the slumping Brian Roberts at the plate, Hairston began to believe he could catch Fassero sleeping and make it home as catcher Todd Greene tossed the ball back to him.
"I was looking to kind of ignite us a little bit," Hairston said. "We have a good team, and this has been a tough month for us. And my job is to . . . try to make things happen. When you're going through a tough stretch, you have to be even more aggressive. I've seen Omar Vizquel do it, and Robby Alomar do it."
So Hairston crept down the line and took off. But Fassero spotted him and threw quickly to Greene, who applied the tag, while Roberts scurried out of the way and the Orioles' bench bowed its collective head. Inning over. And essentially, game over.
"I told him that's a play you cannot [try] unless you're standing up at home plate," Manager Lee Mazzilli said firmly.
"I'm really upset about the result," Hairston said, "but I'm not going to second-guess myself."
By the time the Orioles showed any other signs of life, they were trailing by six runs. Roberts's two-run single in the sixth off Marc Kroon pulled them within 8-4. A two-run double by Rafael Palmeiro in the eighth made it 9-6. The Orioles would get no closer.
After scoring three or fewer runs in each of the past six games, the Orioles' output was a veritable offensive explosion.
The Orioles gave DuBose a two-run lead by the third inning -- courtesy of Larry Bigbie's sacrifice fly to shallow left in the second and Palmeiro's RBI single in the top of the third -- but he gave those two runs back, plus three more, in the gruesome bottom half of the inning.
DuBose issued three walks in the inning -- including an inexcusable free pass to the pitcher -- and all three came around to score. The big hit of the inning was Preston Wilson's double to left, which skidded past Hairston -- who, of course, is playing out of position while the team sorts out its second base situation -- all the way to the wall.
"When he walked the pitcher," Mazzilli said, "that got us in trouble."
Even after DuBose gave up a five-spot in the third inning, Mazzilli allowed him to bat with a runner on third and one out in the bottom of the inning. DuBose struck out meekly, then lasted only three batters in the fourth inning.
Asked about DuBose's spot in the rotation, Mazzilli acknowledged he does not have a better option at present, and added, "I want to make sure [DuBose] is physically fine."
Orioles Notes: Needing warm bodies, the team placed veteran outfielder B.J. Surhoff on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf muscle and recalled corner infielder Jose Leon from Class AAA Ottawa. Leon had been optioned to Ottawa on Friday, but had not left Denver and, thus, was in uniform for the game.
Surhoff, who was hitting .321, suffered his injury Thursday night and may be only a week away from being able to return. However, with center fielder Luis Matos (bruised rib cage) and third baseman Melvin Mora (strained foot) also unable to play, the Orioles did not want to be three players short on their bench.
"That's tough to do in a National League park," Mazzilli said. "We needed somebody here."
Mazzilli does not expect Matos or Mora to play until Tuesday in Baltimore, at the earliest. . . .
Newly acquired infielder David Newhan, who hit a pinch-hit homer in his first Orioles at-bat Friday night, got his first start, at third base, and went 2 for 4. . . .
Jay Gibbons snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a second-inning single.