BALTIMORE – For just the second time this season, the Orioles have a four-game losing streak.
On Monday night, it was the Cleveland Indians’ turn. The loss wasn’t as disheartening as the three last weekend in Toronto, but it hurt just the same.
Zach Britton took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, but couldn’t hold it as the Orioles lost to the Indians 5-2 before 18,544 at Oriole Park.
Britton (1-2) pitched well through five innings, limiting the Indians to two hits, but in the sixth he teetered.
Jason Kipnis led off the sixth with a double and scored on Nick Swisher’s single. After Carlos Santana doubled and Mark Reynolds was walked intentionally, Michael Brantley singled to center to score Swisher and Santana for a 3-2 Cleveland (39-36) lead.
Early in the game I was able to make pitches with guys on base, executing a little bit better. I think I was trying to do too much after that leadoff double and things kind of escalated right there. But still, one pitch away,” Britton said.
“With Kipnis, I kind of babied a fastball in there. When you have conviction in a pitch you can kind of miss location.”
Tommy Hunter quickly retired three batters in succession to end the inning and keep the game in reach.
Britton pitched five-plus innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out five.
“If I'm a little bit sharper, execute some pitches, I can get out of that inning with one or two runs, but at least we're in the game, still. It gives them momentum. Obviously, we had opportunities to score. But as a pitcher, I felt like the way I was throwing we didn't need a lot of runs today if I execute the pitches the way I should have,” Britton said.
In his last start Tuesday, he was pulled in the sixth in Detroit, but got the win.
“He had good enough stuff to get a lot deeper,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Matt Wieters wasn’t unhappy with Britton’s performance.
“He was good. He had the one inning where they put some at-bats together and really got behind the leadoff hitter, which [meant] he had to throw a strike there. Then a leadoff double and it kind of snowballed a little bit from there,” Wieters said.
“But he threw the ball well. He was down in the zone, he was able to throw his off-speed stuff and was able to mix in both his four-seamer and his sinker tonight.”
Nick Markakis hit his eighth home run of the year with two outs in the first, and after the Orioles (42-35) failed to exploit five baserunners in the second and third, Wieters hit his 10th off Ubaldo Jimenez for a 2-0 lead.
Jimenez (6-4) was pulled after 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out six.
Rich Hill, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings to close it out. Pestano picked up his fourth save of the season.
Michael Brantley hit a two-run home run off Darren O’Day in the eighth to make it 5-2.
After reaching a season-high 11 games over .500, the four-game slide has given them their second worst skid of the season.
“I don’t look back too much but I think we had a six-game one not too long ago and we were able to get some something going after that so we’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Wieters said.
NOTES: Steve Pearce had an injection on his left wrist on Monday. Pearce is on the disabled list with tendinitis. He’ll leave either Tuesday or Wednesday for Sarasota, Fla. to rehab it. Pearce is hoping he’ll be able to come off the DL when he’s eligible on July 5.
“That’s what we are hoping. Right now I think we are just going to let the wrist calm down and stay away from here being tempted on swings,” Pearce said.
“I don’t get the luxury to sit around, I got to hit. So the only time it’s going to heal is to stay off of it and not use it. So that’s what we are going to do right now with the injection. We are just going to let it heal.”
Pearce said he’ll rest the wrist for three or four days.
-Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.71) faces Cleveland’s Justin Masterson (9-5, 3.48) on Tuesday.
-Nolan Reimold was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts for Bowie. In his seven-game rehab assignment, Reimold is 2-for-25 with 10 strikeouts.
-Frederick catcher Michael Ohlman was named Carolina League Player of the Week.
-The Orioles signed pitcher Casey Upperman from the Normal, Illinois franchise of the independent Frontier League. He was assigned to Delmarva.