Athletics 11, Orioles 0
The Baltimore Orioles had already been humiliated on the field, crushed by a relentless Oakland Athletics offense, manhandled by an exceptional pitcher at the height of his powers and subjected to a brief postgame pep talk from their manager by the time team doctor Charles Silberstein looked at an X-ray of center fielder Jerry Hairston's left ankle late Tuesday night and prepared to deliver the news that would make the Orioles' night suddenly get a lot worse.
The X-ray showed what appeared to be a crack in Hairston's ankle, the result of a crash into the center field wall as Hairston tried to track one of four home runs the A's hit in a brutal 11-0 whipping of the Orioles in front of 32,243 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"We're hoping [the apparent crack] is a shadow," said Hairston, who was on his way to an emergency room for a CT scan.
The night was thus doubly costly for the Orioles, who saw a tight, taut 1-0 game explode into an ugly mess in the sixth inning, when starter Rodrigo Lopez (10-8) and a couple members of the team's troublesome middle-relief corps gave up six quick runs, four of which came on Scott Hatteberg's grand slam.
Another injured Oriole, Brian Roberts -- who fouled a pitch off his right lower leg in the sixth inning -- is day-to-day and still could play in Wednesday night's series finale.
Meantime, Tim Hudson (8-4), the league's ERA leader, pitched brilliantly in shutting out the Orioles on five hits, never allowing a runner past first base while improving to 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA career against the Orioles.
Having won 11 out of 13 games when this series began Monday night -- a streak that had pulled the Orioles to within two games of .500 and seven games of the wild-card lead -- they have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 31-Aug. 1 at New York.
"We're all mad we got our heads handed to us. Nobody likes that," said Manager Lee Mazzilli, who addressed the team briefly after the game, stressing the positive gains made over the last few weeks. "But it's okay. It's over now. . . . We've played good baseball for weeks."
Hudson's complete mastery of the strike zone -- evidenced by the fact he did not walk a batter, and went to a three-ball count just twice -- meant the Orioles' hitters had nothing to gain by being patient. Twenty-four of the Orioles' 30 plate appearances against Hudson ended in four pitches or fewer.
"We've had some good games pitched against us this season," Hairston said. "But [Hudson] was on another level. That's an ace right there."
Much as lefty Erik Bedard had done the night before, Lopez effectively kept the A's off the scoreboard for most of the night, but expended too much effort in doing so. Lopez's pitch count rose rapidly, though part of it must be blamed on first base umpire Mike Everitt, who extended the top of the second inning with an egregiously blown call on Erubiel Durazo's slow roller -- which first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, with his foot already on the bag, appeared to scoop up while Durazo was still a full step away.
The blown call came one day after third base umpire Larry Young made a controversial ruling in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 3-1 loss Monday night, saying Palmeiro had swung at an 0-2 pitch when Palmeiro claimed he was simply getting out of the way of an inside pitch.
This time, Lopez eventually escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam without allowing a run, but he needed 31 pitches to navigate the inning, partly because of Everitt's missed call.
"Things could have been different if it's a different call," Lopez said, "but umpires are human, too."
It was obvious by the end of the fifth inning -- with Lopez already at 88 pitches, and Hudson at only 48 -- whose bullpen would have a strong say as to the game's outcome. And sure enough, as soon as Lopez was gone three batters into the sixth, things began to come apart.
Lefty John Parrish inherited two runners and both scored, plus one of his own. Right-hander Todd Williams contributed a bases-loaded walk and Hatteberg's grand slam in the sixth, then Eric Byrnes's two-run homer in the seventh.
"Today was a game that got away from you," Mazzilli said. "That hasn't happened to us in a long time."
Orioles Notes: The team expects to activate veteran designated hitter David Segui on Wednesday, and he could start that night against A's lefty Mark Mulder. The team has been lacking a right-handed bat all season, and Segui, a switch hitter, could share time at first base with Palmeiro -- who is hitting .186 vs. lefties -- in addition to serving as DH.
The Orioles are getting the worst production in the league out of their DH spot. Entering Tuesday night's game, Orioles DHs have combined for only five homers with an OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) of .629 this season, both of which are the lowest in the league. . . .
Left fielder Larry Bigbie missed a second straight game because of a strained groin, but said he expects to be able to play later in the week. . . .
Orioles players and staff will sign autographs and participate in fan forums Wednesday at their annual D.C. Fanfest, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orioles' team store at Farragut Square (925 17th St.). Admission is free.