BALTIMORE-- It was the walks that killed the Orioles.
Three pitchers combined for nine walks. Three of them scored, and the Orioles dropped further behind in the race for an American League wild-card spot.
After right-hander Chris Tillman walked six in his first start since Aug. 3 and right-hander Brad Brach walked two in the eighth inning, Kole Calhoun scored on pinch hitter Cameron Maybin’s single to right against right-hander Mychal Givens and the Orioles lost to the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 before 24,715 at Oriole Park Aug. 20.
For the second consecutive series, the Orioles dropped two of three, and as a result, are four games below .500 for the first time since July 30.
At 60-64, they trail the Angels and Minnesota Twins by four games as the times become desperate for the Orioles.
Manager Buck Showalter was most frustrated about the walks.
“That’s like turning the lineup over without earning it. You’re going to have a tough time winning those games, but we had a shot,” Showalter said. “Some good things in between those. We outhit them, but the walks. I’m surprised they only scored five runs.”
After a series of rocky starts, the Orioles sent Tillman to the bullpen. The intention always was to put the right-hander back in the starting rotation, and after two acceptable relief appearances, he got another start.
Tillman allowed four runs on four hits in 5.1 innings, becoming the first Orioles starter in the last five games to pitch at least five innings.
He equaled a career-high with six walks, and gave up two home runs, to Calhoun in the second, and a two-run shot to Andrelton Simmons in the sixth.
“Probably should have been much better. You cut the walks in half that’s a different ball game,” Tillman said. “That’s just too many. Too many to try to pitch out of. You can’t expect to win a game walking that many. Other than that, I thought it was OK.”
Showalter indicated that Tillman would get another start, but wouldn’t say when.
“He’ll start again. We’re trying to give some guys some rest,” Showalter said. “Exactly when it is after the off-day, we’re going to kind of wait and see how things go, so we won’t really set things in stone until after the off-day.”
The Orioles had to face right-hander Parker Bridwell, who they traded to the Angles for cash considerations in April when they needed a roster spot.
Bridwell, who limited the Orioles to a run in seven innings in an Aug. 8 start, left with a 4-4 tie because the Orioles scored three runs in the sixth.
The Orioles won three straight from Aug. 5-7, and after their win against the Angels in the first game of their series in Anaheim, Calif., they were at .500 for the first time since June 29. Since Aug. 7, they’re just 4-8.
“I think it’s kind of been the story of the whole year for us," first baseman Chris Davis said. "With the exception of maybe the second month, I think there’s just been games that we’ve let slip away, some games we really haven’t been able to close out whether its scoring a run, whether its tacking on a few runs to give us some breathing room.
"I think what’s going to define us this year is whether or not we can make that push and start winning some of those games. Obviously we’re getting down to some pretty crucial times where we need to start winning these games and start making a move.”
NOTES: Davis returned after missing two games because of illness and hit his 19th home run. … Left fielder Trey Mancini is hitless in his last 14 at-bats, and he’s 0-for-24 against the Angels this season. … The Oakland Athletics visit for three games beginning Aug. 21. Left-hander Wade Miley (6-10, 5.21) faces right-hander Chris Smith (0-2, 5.26). … The Angels hit 11 home runs in the three-game series.