Pudge's four hits not enough vs. O's
Catcher goes 4-for-4 with a homer, but Tigers fall to Orioles
BALTIMORE -- Matt Joyce thought he had seen plenty in his young baseball career. A home run off the top of the foul pole was not on his list until Friday night.
"That's one not even in a million," Joyce said of Melvin Mora's go-ahead two-run homer in the Tigers' 7-4 loss to the Orioles. "One in a billion shot."
More importantly to the Tigers' fortunes, Mora's blast was one of four -- as in pitches the Baltimore took deep off Detroit pitching, two of them off the bat of Luke Scott. Thus, one night after the Tigers gave up 14 hits and still won on the strength of the long ball, the Orioles returned the favor on another hot, humid night. And fittingly, while Detroit has won six times when giving up 14 or more hits, it has now lost as many games when churning out that many hits.
It's a break-even split for what is again a .500 team with a 48-48 record.
"We didn't get any big hits," manager Jim Leyland said. "We had chance after chance after chance, and we just couldn't get a big hit."
They had one big hit to pull ahead with Ivan Rodriguez's two-run homer in the second inning, the first of four Rodriguez hits on the night. He and Miguel Cabrera also singled and scored in the fourth to put Detroit back on top. In between was the biggest of the Tigers' chances.
Brandon Inge's leadoff single and Curtis Granderson's walk put runners on first and second against O's starter Jeremy Guthrie with the middle of the Tigers order due up. Placido Polanco tried to sacrifice the runners up a base, but Guthrie made a quick field and throw to nab Inge at third. Joyce's ensuing bloop single, however, loaded the bases with one out for Magglio Ordonez.
Ordonez hit a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, but Guthrie's quick reactions allowed him to stop it and fire home for the second out before catcher Ramon Hernandez threw to first to finish the threat.
"What he did," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said, "was he helped himself [by] being able to field his position. ... Those of us that have been around Guthrie, he's a lot better pitcher than his record would indicate. He won't beat himself. He'll keep coming at you."
Even with the fourth-inning runs, Granderson's RBI bloop double had given the Tigers the opportunity to add on with runners on second and third and two outs. Guthrie fell behind on a 2-0 count to Polanco before inducing an inning-ending grounder to third.
Guthrie had given up 12 hits once back-to-back singles from Polanco and Joyce finally chased him from the game with nobody out in the seventh and Ordonez at the plate. Sidearming reliever Chad Bradford, who had held Detroit hitters to a .223 average and a .277 slugging percentage for his career, continued the trend by inducing an Ordonez double play and retiring Cabrera to strand Polanco on third.
"When you get 14 hits," Leyland said, "you're supposed to score more than four runs."
Tigers starter Armando Galarraga, meanwhile, had gotten back to the aggressive, strike-throwing nature that has made him so successful this season, though some of those strikes ended up in the seats. He recovered from solo homers by Scott and Aubrey Huff to settle down in the middle innings, retiring seven of eight batters before Huff singled to lead off the sixth. Galarraga retired Kevin Millar and worked Mora into an 0-2 hole with sliders.
Another slider to Mora turned out to be one too many. He reached down and in to pull the ball up along the left-field line.
Joyce followed it to the fence, thinking it was going to go foul. Then, he was hoping it was going to go foul.
Eventually, he was left questioning why it's called the foul pole, anyway.
"That was crazy," Joyce said of the homer. "I was like, 'Get foul, get foul, get foul.' I was shocked."
As Leyland put it, "0-2 pitches aren't supposed to leave the park. That's just the way it is."
Galarraga (7-4) tied a season high with six strikeouts and threw 71 of his 104 pitches for strikes. Not only did he not walk a batter, he reached just four three-ball counts over his 6 2/3 innings. Nonetheless, he suffered his second consecutive loss after putting up a nine-game unbeaten streak from late May into July.
"Just about every bad pitch he threw," Leyland said, "he paid for."
The clinching home run came when lefty Bobby Seay entered the game to face Scott with Mora on first and one out in the eighth. Seay went at him with sliders. Scott hit a 2-2 pitch deep to right to open up a three-run Orioles lead.
It was the first home run Seay allowed to a left-handed batter since Adam Dunn on July 15, 2005, when Seay was in the Colorado Rockies bullpen. He has allowed a .322 average to left-handed hitters this season compared to .200 for righties, but none of the lefty bats had taken him deep in three seasons as a Tiger.
"The pitch he hit out of the park was a bad pitch," Seay said. "I went back and looked at it. It was down and in to a left-hander, the complete opposite of where I was trying to throw it. I'm not going to second-guess what I threw, but I probably should've mixed in a fastball somewhere in that at-bat."
Fittingly, the result was just the opposite of Friday night. The Tigers had the hits, but the Orioles had the win.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.