Rare Johnson blown save leads to Orioles' 3-2 loss

Rare Johnson blown save leads to Orioles' 3-2 loss
May 14, 2013, 11:00 pm
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(Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)


BALTIMORE – Jim Johnson wasn’t terribly impressed with his streak and didn’t seem crushed that it had ended.

In 35 consecutive regular season games, since last July 27, Johnson had routinely and usually quickly ended the game. On Tuesday night, Johnson gave up two ninth-inning runs, and the Orioles lost to the San Diego Padres 3-2 before 19,096 at Oriole Park.

In the top of the ninth, with the Orioles leading by a run, Johnson (1-3) allowed leadoff singles to Yonder Alonso and Mark Kotsay. Jedd d Gyorko grounded into a double play, with Alonso taking third.

Chris Denorfia singled to center to tie the score at 2-2, and after Nick Hundley was hit by a pitch, Evereth Cabrera singled past shortstop J.J. Hardy’s glove for the go-ahead run.

“I just made a couple bad pitches and they put good swings on the ball. We were close. Needed one more pitch to find a way out of it,” Johnson said.
 
“When I blow a game, it's usually in the same fashion, hits through here and there. I made them work for it, that's the only benefit I guess.”

The 35 straight were a franchise record, one more than Randy Myers’ 34 in 1997.

“I really didn't put a whole of stock into it. It was just something you guys like to talk about but like everybody said, we'll start something new tomorrow,” Johnson said.

Johnson was facing unfamiliar hitters, but said that wasn’t an issue. He’d watched extensive video of San Diego hitters, and felt he knew them well enough.

The Orioles know Johnson well and appreciate him.

“I think everybody knows how hard it is to do what people who pitch the ninth inning do all around baseball. Jimmy is remarkable. He's as solid as they come,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Ryan Flaherty, whose third inning home run gave the Orioles their first run, marveled at Johnson’s accomplishment.

“That was incredible. He comes in the game and it’s 1-2-3, and the game’s over and everyone goes home. So, you get accustomed to that. You got a couple of balls that went through, and that’s going to happen,” Flaherty said.. 

Luke Gregerson (2-2) got the win by retiring the only batter he faced in the eighth. Huston Street got his ninth save by pitching a scoreless ninth.

Chris Tillman was looking for his fourth straight win. Because his teammates provided little offense against Padres starter Andrew Cashner in the first seven innings, he had to settle for a pat on the back.

He gave up his only run in the second when Carlos Quentin hit a home run leading off the inning, his fourth into the left field stands for a 1-0 San Diego (17-21) lead. After two were out, Tillman loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman. He struck out Evereth Cabrera to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, Ryan Flaherty hit a home run into the first row of the left field stands, his second off Cashner to tie the score at 1.

In the sixth, Quentin led off and sent a fly ball to center in front of the Orioles bullpen. Adam Jones leaped and snared it to rob him of a possible home run.

In the last couple of weeks, the harping about his defense has died down, and plays like that will help.

Tillman threw seven innings, allowing the home run, four hits. He struck out seven and walked two.
“I think it was a little struggle early. But we were able to get on track in the middle part of the game. Got my pitches going. Kind of just rode with [Matt] Wieters there. He did a good job of getting me back in that thing,” Tillman said.

After throwing lots of pitches early, he retired the final 11 batters.
 
“Felt like they were fouling everything off tonight,” Tillman said.

With the score tied at 1, Flaherty, who had earlier given the Orioles (23-16) their first run with a home run, walked, Alexi Casilla pinch-ran and stole second, and moved to third on Hundley’s throwing error. He scored on Steve Pearce’s RBI single, and the Orioles led 2-1.

NOTES: Manny Machado went 1-for-4 and failed in his attempt to become the fourth Orioles player to have three hits in four consecutive games.

-Hardy has a 10-game hitting streak.

-Reliever Alex Burnett and infielder Yamaico Navarro were recalled from Norfolk, but neither played. It’s Burnett third callup this season and Navarro’s second. Burnett has pitched in one game. Navarro has yet to appear.

-The Orioles and Padres conclude the two-game series on Wednesday afternoon at 12:35 p.m. Freddy Garcia (0-1, 4.26) faces Jason Marquis (4-2, 3.48).