BALTIMORE (AP) - The Baltimore Orioles had blown one scoring opportunity after another, and then Danny Valencia made the misery go away with a timely two-run homer.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, its lead lasted only until a 41-year-old backup catcher connected one inning later.
And so, after a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, the Orioles pondered the ramifications of a disappointing homestand as they prepared to head west for an eight-game trip.
Baltimore went 4-5 against Boston, Houston and Seattle after losing the pivotal game of a three-game series to the Mariners on Henry Blanco's two-run homer in the seventh inning.
``It's a turn the page. It is what it is,' manager Buck Showalter said. ``You try to learn from things. We don't sit there and lament what could have been. You have to focus on what has to be in the future.'
Indeed, it won't do the Orioles any good to think about a one-run loss in which they went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
``We've got a lot of baseball left,' right fielder Nick Markakis said. ``We have a long road trip ahead of us on the West coast and everybody knows what the West coast is about, it's a grind out there. We've got to play good. Big road trip for us, and like we've said all year, we've got to put this behind us and look forward.'
Batting ninth in the lineup, Blanco sent an 0-2 pitch into the left-field seats to erase a 2-1 deficit. He was playing in his 32nd game of the season, the 17th with Seattle after being signed as a free agent.
Blanco has played for 11 different teams during a career that began in 1997. This was his third homer of the season; the other two were grand slams, including a game winner in his Mariners debut against Oakland on June 15.
Seattle starter Joe Saunders (10-10) worked out of trouble in almost every inning but improved to 7-0 lifetime against Baltimore after allowing two runs, eight hits and two walks in six innings.
Saunders, who played a key role for the Orioles late last season and pitched in two playoff games, has five consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins. In this one, he walked a tightrope through five innings and gave up a two-run drive to Valencia in the sixth.
That would be the extent of the Baltimore offense, although the Orioles sure made Saunders sweat it out.
``They worked me,' the left-hander said. ``I had everything I had today and they worked it.'
Yoervis Medina struck out four in two perfect innings and Danny Farquhar got three straight outs for his second save, both of which came within 24 hours of each other.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-4) gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings in losing for the first time in seven starts since May 1.
Valencia was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game for his third stint with the Orioles this season. Starting at designated hitter, he homered after Steve Pearce drew a leadoff walk to put Baltimore up 2-1.
Not long after that, following a walk to No. 8 hitter Brendan Ryan, Blanco pulled a pitch a few feet inside the foul pole.
``That's the spot I wanted to attack,' Chen said through an interpreter. ``I threw the ball right on the spot and he still swings the bat really well and he hit a home run off me. Hat's off to him.'
Seattle and Baltimore combined for 14 homers in the three games, none more important than Blanco's.
``I wasn't expecting to hit a home run,' Blanco said. ``I was trying to get a pitch where I could put the ball in play and see if something can happen. I just hit it pretty good.'
The Mariners used successive doubles by Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez to go up 1-0 in the second.
Over the first five innings, the Orioles wasted repeated opportunities to score.
NOTES: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says manager Eric Wedge, who had a mild stroke on July 22, won't rejoin the team this week. Zduriencik said Wedge is ``doing well,' but added, ``This is a lifelong health issue for him. When he gets back here managing this club, we want him to be here. We don't want him to come in and be here for two or three days.'... Zduriencik also said RH reliever Stephen Pryor has been shut down for the year with an injured right triceps muscle. ... Orioles 2B Brian Roberts missed a third straight game while on paternity leave. He is expected to travel with the team Monday to San Diego for a two-game series that begins Tuesday night. ... The Mariners host Toronto on Monday night after going 2-4 on a six-game trip through Boston and Baltimore. ... Seattle won the season series 4-2.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved