Guthrie lets lead slip away

BALTIMORE — There are certain responsibilities that come with being a staff ace, and Jeremy Guthrie, though still relatively new to the role, has not shied away from any of them. So the former Ashland High pitcher would be the first to acknowledge that when given a multi-run lead early in the game, he's expected to put up zeros and maintain it.

However, it's a task the right-hander is clearly struggling with. Ten days after letting his team's seven-run lead over the Boston Red Sox slip away, Guthrie contributed to wasting an early four-run advantage over the Texas Rangers on Monday night. He allowed three runs in five innings, and the Rangers completed the comeback by scoring three more in the sixth off Matt Albers to secure the 6-4 win before an announced 10,621, the second-smallest crowd in Camden Yards history.

It allowed the Rangers to take three of four in the series and dealt the Orioles their second series loss this season.

The Orioles took a 4-0 lead after the second inning, but were shut down after that by Rangers starter Matt Harrison, who retired 17 of the last 18 he faced, including 16 consecutive at one point. The Orioles had only three base-runners after Brian Roberts' two-run single in the second inning, and two came in the ninth inning.

In the ninth, Rangers closer Frank Francisco hit Lou Montanez with two out and Gregg Zaun followed with a single. However, Francisco struck out Robert Andino on a full count to get his fifth save. Twenty-three of the last 26 Orioles to bat were retired.

Guthrie, meanwhile, ran out of steam in the middle innings, perhaps the result of his 37-pitch first inning. Marlon Byrd started the Rangers' comeback with an RBI single in the fourth inning, and then Michael Young connected for a two-run home run in the fifth, cutting the Orioles' lead to 4-3.

Guthrie was done after five innings with his pitch count at 101. After compiling a 2.25 ERA while winning his first two starts, Guthrie has a 7.47 ERA over his past three outings, giving up 13 earned runs, 16 hits, including four home runs, and eight walks over his last 15 2-3 innings.

In fairness to him, he left the game with a chance to win, but that was squandered quickly by Albers. The struggling right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Hank Blalock, a one-out walk to Chris Davis and then a game-tying single to Taylor Teagarden, who entered the game 1-for-15. Albers then issued a two-out walk to Ian Kinsler to load the bases before David Murphy hit a two-run single. Albers got just two outs, leaving his ERA at 7.71.

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