Orioles, Britton struggle in uninspiring loss to Cardinals

June 29, 2011 | Luke Jones

The St. Louis Cardinals arrived in Baltimore having lost 12 of 15 and licking their wounds from a three-game sweep to Toronto in which they scored a paltry total of seven runs, but you wouldn’t know it as the Orioles were the ones going through the motions in a 6-2 loss Tuesday night.

The recent struggles of Zach Britton continued as the rookie allowed four earned runs in a rain-shortened 5 2/3 innings to fall to 6-6 on the season after an electrifying 5-1 start to begin the season. As has become a common theme of late, Britton struggled with his command and left pitches up in the strike zone, including a rocked over the right-field scoreboard hit by Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus in the sixth inning.

Over his last six starts, the left-hander has dropped four decisions while pitching to a 5.35 earned run average. Needless to say, the Rookie of the Year discussion has cooled as Britton has just one victory in his last 10 starts dating back to May 6.

Of course, the Orioles hitters provided little assistance as St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse shut them out for five innings before a 28-minute rain delay caused his early exit. Despite a 2.91 ERA ranking in the top 10 in the National League entering the night, it was Lohse’s first win of the month after the veteran right-hander had pitched to a 5.47 ERA in June.

By the time J.J. Hardy smacked his 11th home run of the year and Adam Jones later picked up a run-scoring double in the bottom of the eighth, the outcome had long been decided.

And to add injury to insult, Luke Scott bruised his right knee in the ninth inning as he crashed into the wall while robbing Matt Holliday of his second home run of the night. The starting left fielder was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth and is day-to-day.

There isn’t much else to say that the box score wouldn’t tell you about the series-opening loss. Instead of continuing to build upon the success of a series win against the Reds over the weekend, the Orioles played like the team going through the motions, though a tip of the cap to Lohse and reliever Lance Lynn — who struck out five Baltimore hitters in his two innings — is appropriate.

It was an all-too-familiar performance as the Orioles again fell to a season-worst six games below .500 with an imposing 10-game road trip starting on Friday.

The starting pitching continues to struggle and the powerful bats that were responsible for nine home runs against the Reds went silent until long after the game had grown out of hand.

Instead of stepping on the throat of a struggling opponent, the Orioles were the ones playing uninspired baseball until the final two innings.

Too little, too late.

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