Pirates rough up Guthrie

PITTSBURGH — There were options had the Orioles wanted to skip Jeremy Guthrie's start, or at the very least, push it back a couple of days to make sure that the right-hander had recovered from a back strain.

But Guthrie wanted the ball, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided there were worse things than having his Opening Night starter on the mound looking to extend a two-game road winning streak.

That decision hung over the early innings Tuesday night as Guthrie, an Ashland native, was rocked for five quick runs and the Orioles never recovered in a 9-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of an announced 33,806 at PNC Park.

On a night the franchise celebrated the 40th anniversary of its 1971 World Series victory of the Orioles, the Pirates (36-37) broke a four-game losing streak, scoring three times in the first inning and building a 5-0 lead by the bottom of the third.

The Orioles (33-38) got a solo homer by J.J. Hardy and a two-run shot by Adam Jones—both in the fifth inning—but they couldn't overcome the early deficit and an 0-for-7 performance with runners in scoring position. The Pirates' bullpen turned in 41/3 scoreless innings in relief of a shaky James McDonald, who was pulled by manager Clint Hurdle one out shy of being eligible for the victory.

The Orioles fell to 3-5 on this road trip heading into today's series finale here.

Pitching five days after leaving a start with back discomfort and four days after an MRI confirmed a strain, Guthrie allowed six runs (five earned) on 11 hits and three walks over 61/3 innings. He fell to 2-9 and is tied for the major league lead in losses. He has dropped his past three decisions and is winless since May 21.

If Guthrie's back was bothering him, it wasn't evident in his velocity. His fastball was clocked in the low to mid-90s throughout his outing. However, his command wasn't on point, resulting in the most hits he has given up in a game this season and a series of well-struck balls. All three Orioles outfielders—Jones, Luke Scott and Nick Markakis—made nice running catches, and Jones turned in one of the better plays of the year with his theft of Garrett Jones' would-be extra-base hit in the fifth.

Guthrie isn't one to make excuses, but his command issues made it easy to question how much he was affected by not getting in his usual preparation before his start. He threw a bullpen session Sunday in Washington, but it wasn't as extensive as he would typically throw two days before a start.

The game was a reversal from Monday's series opener, in which the Orioles jumped on the Pirates for a season-high five first-inning runs and added two more in the second and one in the third to take an 8-1 lead.

This time, the Pirates tallied three times in the first inning as the first three batters Guthrie faced reached base. Jose Tabata led off with a sharp single to center field, and Josh Harrison blooped a single in front of Markakis in right field.

Jones scored them both with a double to deep right-center field. Cleanup hitter Andrew McCutchen dropped down a sacrifice bunt, and Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field, giving Pittsburgh the three-run first inning.

Guthrie allowed a leadoff single to Ronny Cedeno in the second, and Cedeno scored, thanks to a sacrifice bunt by McDonald and a two-out double by Tabata.

In the third, McCutchen reached on a one-out walk and Walker singled, putting runners on the corners with one out. Xavier Paul made it a 5-0 game with a sacrifice fly to deep right field.

McDonald wasn't sharp either, but the Orioles' struggles with runners in scoring position helped him keep the visitors off the board for the first four innings. They had runners on first and second in the second inning, and Robert Andino flied out, setting the stage for a terrible offensive night for the second baseman.

Guthrie hit a leadoff double in the third, and he never moved off second base. Still trailing 5-0, the Orioles had runners on first and second and one out in the fourth; Andino struck out, and Guthrie grounded out.

They finally got back in the game in the fifth when Hardy led off the inning with his ninth home run of the season. Markakis singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, and Jones deposited McDonald's pitch into the right-center-field seats for his 11th homer.

Their deficit trimmed to two runs, the Orioles had men on first and second in the fifth inning when Hurdle lifted McDonald after a two-out walk to Mark Reynolds. Chris Resop (3-2) came on and struck out Andino looking. That left Andino with six stranded runners and the Orioles 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

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