Fans sit in the stands before Sunday’s game between the Orioles and Astros at Camden Yards. The contest was completed after nearly five hours of weather delays. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

For the past month or so, the Baltimore Orioles’ widely divergent records in games at home and on the road have kept everyone wondering which direction the team would eventually turn.

Now we have the answer: the wrong one.

The Orioles came into this homestand with the best home record in the major leagues and have proceeded to lose five of six games against the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. They’ve still got two interleague games left here against the first-place Washington Nationals, but they’ll have to look a lot more like a playoff contender to change the direction they’ve been going for the past week.

It isn’t often that their steady defense lets them down, but a couple of misplays in the fifth inning led to three runs that would be the difference in a 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros on a rain-soaked day that turned into a dismal night after nearly five hours of weather delays.

What remained of a paid crowd of 29,734 watched starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo pitch somewhat well in a loss and saw the on-again, off-again Orioles offense struggle against Dallas Keuchel.

Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, pitched eight strong innings Sunday in his team’s 5-3 victory. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)

Gallardo (4-5) pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, but only three of those runs were earned and a couple of those might not have been if Chris Davis had not lost Carlos Correa’s line drive double in the lights.

The Orioles picked up single runs in the fourth and fifth innings on a homer by Jonathan Schoop and an RBI single by Adam Jones, but they were overmatched offensively after scoring 18 runs — and hitting 10 home runs — in the first 10 innings of the four-game series. From the second inning of the second game through the ninth inning Sunday, the Orioles were outscored 31-8.

The Astros’ Yulieski Gurriel, a 32-year-old Cuban defector who signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal in July, singled in his first at-bat and went 1 for 2 with a walk as the designated hitter in his major league debut.

Keuchel (8-12) was solid through eight innings for Houston. Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner allowed two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts.

The Orioles called up minor league pitcher Parker Bridwell for emergency long relief duty, and used him in a two-run game in the eighth inning. He got the first two outs of the inning, allowed a solo home run to late-inning sub Jake Marisnick, and pitched a scoreless ninth.

Sunday’s loss was also a missed opportunity in the standings, since the first-place Blue Jays and second-place Red Sox had already lost before the tarp came off the field at Oriole Park.

Orioles rookie Dylan Bundy will try to change the subject Monday night, but it will be no easy task against Nationals 15-game winner Stephen Strasburg.

The Orioles’ Steve Pearce reacts to a called third strike in the third inning Sunday. Baltimore remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto in the AL East. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)

— Baltimore Sun