O's seek to avoid third straight loss in clash with Tigers

Trying to avoid their third three-game slide already in the game series against the Detroit Tigers tonight at Camden Yards.

Last night the Tigers opened the set with a narrow 5-4 triumph, the team's second win in a row after bowing in three straight. After the O's tied the score in the bottom of the fifth inning at four apiece, Andy Dirks singled to center to score Austin Jackson for the game-winner in the top of the sixth. Dirks finished the outing with four hits and a walk, while Wilson Betemit accounted for three hits and plated two in the triumph as well.

"It's a team game and everybody has to do their part," Dirks said. "That's what makes a good ball club. Everybody's just trying to fill a role and play good team baseball."

Brad Penny was credited with the win, his eighth of the season, as he permitted four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Penny walked one and struck out two as he weathered a pair of home runs by Baltimore's J.J. Hardy. Jose Valverde checked in for his 34th save of the campaign.

Hardy, who leads all American League shortstops with 23 home runs after logging his seventh career multi-homer game, knocked in a total of three runs for the Orioles as they suffered their fourth loss in the last five games. Vladimir Guerrero and Adam Jones both chipped in a pair of hits as well.

Baltimore starter Alfredo Simon lasted just 4 2/3 innings, scattering 11 hits and walking three batters, leading to four runs. However, Simon didn't factor into the decision; the loss was instead charged to Troy Patton who worked 2 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits.

Right-hander Max Scherzer has been penciled in as the starter for the Tigers in tonight's meeting. Scherzer, who is 1-1 in his career against Baltimore and is one game under .500 overall (32-33) against all opponents in the majors, has just one win in his last five appearances.

Last weekend the Missouri native made it through just five innings against Kansas City on the road, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out five in a 4-3 defeat.

Despite having an ERA that is just fractions of a point higher than Scherzer. Baltimore hurler Jeremy Guthrie has a winning percentage of only .250 as he deals with having the most losses of any starter in the American League at 15.

Guthrie, who is 3-1 in his career versus the Tigers, last pitched on Monday when he and the O's suffered a 7-6 loss against the Chicago White Sox. In that outing the right-hander was touched for four earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, while striking out only two over seven innings.

Even though Guthrie has surrendered 21 home runs thus far, that's not even close to the most allowed in the majors, yet he still has to deal with the fact that he's the one fast approaching 20 losses on the campaign.

Baltimore, which is a distant fifth in the American League East standings, already 27 1/2 games out of contention, has the worst run differential in the AL at this stage at minus-139. The Orioles, who are second only to the Houston Astros (minus-146) for the worst run differential in the majors right now, have by far the highest team ERA in the league at 4.84.

Detroit hurlers sport an ERA of 4.21 (11th in the AL) but along the way they've helped to buoy their stats a bit by posting 10 shutouts. Now three games ahead of Cleveland for first place in the AL Central, the Tigers have managed to offset a sub-par pitching effort by batting .267, tied for third in the AL heading into Saturday's action.

Baltimore captured two of three from the Tigers in the first week of the season and is 5-5 in the previous eight matchups.