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BAL@SEA: O's fail to retire Ichiro, three runs result

SEATTLE -- Jeremy Guthrie watched as his changeup hit Justin Smoak's bat and sailed over the right-field wall, taking with it Tuesday's game, the three-game series and, perhaps most importantly, the Orioles' chance of redemption on a winless road trip.

"The thing is, he located so well all night," catcher Matt Wieters said of Guthrie, who was working on a four-hit shutout when Smoak dug in. "It was just one of those pitches where you make that mistake, as soon as you throw it, you want it back."

The regret lingered in a hushed Orioles clubhouse as Guthrie's dominant start was marred by Smoak's go-ahead, three run homer, preceded by a fatal error that ultimately handed Baltimore a brutal 3-2 loss to Seattle.

But the most palpable emotion following the O's fifth consecutive defeat was a state of shock, as the missed offensive opportunities and mental mistakes Guthrie worked so hard to cover up bubbled to the forefront in a game that unraveled at breakneck speed.

"[Guthrie] was just nasty," said Mariners infielder Brendan Ryan, who singled after Ichiro Suzuki reached on a two-out eighth-inning error ultimately charged to Guthrie. "It happened so fast. I'm sure he's over there not believing that just happened. And we're thinking the same thing.

"That was something else."

It sure was. Asked to describe the play in question, in which first baseman Luke Scott made a diving stop on Ichiro's grounder, then fired the ball off Guthrie's glove, the Orioles ace didn't mince words.

"I think you guys know, you've watched me play," said Guthrie, who is far and away the Orioles' best fielding pitcher. "I don't think you've ever seen me drop a ball that's thrown to me. It's unfortunate."

Scott, filling in for the injured Derrek Lee, said he was aware of Ichiro's speed and was trying to get the ball over as quickly as possible. He estimated he was "maybe two or three inches too far" with his attempt, a costly miscalculation that left the door open for Smoak to seal Seattle' win and tag Guthrie with three unearned runs.

"When you throw the ball that hard from that short a distance, it makes it doubly hard on the pitcher," said O's manager Buck Showalter. "Jeremy is a Gold Glove candidate every year. So when he doesn't catch the ball, you very seldom fault him."

In the end, it didn't matter who was to blame, as the Orioles offense continued to sputter in big situations, leaving the Mariners within striking distance.

Seattle starter Erik Bedard, traded in a six-player swap headlined by the Orioles' acquisition of Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, matched Guthrie's dominance early on. The lefty needed just 58 pitches to get through four innings, striking out seven over that span, and Bedard didn't allow a runner to reach third until the sixth inning, when the Orioles finally broke through for a run on Nick Markakis' double-play grounder.

Wieters gave the Orioles a little breathing room with a solo homer to start the seventh, but the O's wasted a bases-loaded one-out situation. Bedard exited two batters after Wieters in favor of Chris Ray. The Orioles loaded the bases on Ray, with Nolan Reimold working a walk and J.J. Hardy hitting an infield single, and looked poised to tack on a few more runs.

But Robert Andino hit a shallow fly ball that couldn't net a run and Jones went down swinging in an inning that has become all too familiar on a nightmarish West Cost road trip.

"I'm not going to sit around and say, 'woe is me' and pity [the] world that everybody lives in looking for a sympathetic ear," Showalter said. "Nobody [on the other side] cares. Play better."

It's hard to imagine Baltimore playing much worse. Scott's fourth-inning baserunning blunder, in which he hesitated on second base and tried too late to advance on Reimold's blooper, was just the latest head-scratching move.

An Orioles offense that has left 34 men on base over five games has also committed frequent mental blunders over the two-city trip, such as not knowing the outs or giving away an at-bat instead of moving a runner. Up until Guthrie's 111-pitch outing, the starting rotation turned in four consecutive starts of fewer than six innings, pitching to a 6.50 ERA over that stretch.

"I was ready to keep throwing," Guthrie said. "I should be out there finishing that game off."

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