Millwood hurt by homers as O's lose

Millwood hurt by homers as O's lose

BALTIMORE -- With each defeat, particularly among American League East foes, Baltimore's 16-42 record continues to gain traction toward an unpleasantly lopsided finish. But perhaps the most alarming part of the Orioles' 12-7 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night is the diminishing performance of veteran Kevin Millwood.

Once the valiant tough-luck loser, the veteran right-hander had been hit hard in his previous two starts, and Tuesday was no different. Millwood allowed six earned runs -- all of which came as a result of the long ball -- and failed to make it out of the sixth inning for the second consecutive outing in front of a modest crowd of 23,171 at Camden Yards.

Millwood has allowed 16 earned runs over his past three starts, a stretch of 17 1/3 innings, during which he has been tagged with 26 hits and 10 walks against 13 strikeouts. He has pitched to an 8.42 ERA over that stretch.

When asked to identify a common thread, Millwood said he's simply not throwing the ball where he wants to.

"I need to locate to pitch well, and with five walks, I'm definitely not locating the way I need to be," he said. "Even with some of the balls that [the Yankees were] hitting and located in bad spots, it's just simply throwing the ball where I need to more often."

Millwood put the Orioles in a two-run hole before he could record an out, opening the game with a walk to Derek Jeter and paying dearly for it with Nick Swisher's first-pitch homer.

A victim of poor run support all season, Millwood saw the O's usually listless bats come out swinging, recording three early hits off tough right-hander Phil Hughes.

"It seemed like we were swinging the bats pretty well today, hitting them pretty hard," Millwood said. "I figured if I kept them right there [at Swisher's homer], we had a chance."

But Millwood's estimations didn't come to fruition, and the game's momentum shifted away from the O's with one swing of Curtis Granderson's bat. With two outs in the third inning, Millwood walked Jorge Posada to load the bases and bring on Granderson, who sent a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a grand slam that spotted the Yankees an early six runs.

"He was falling behind in the count and made some good pitches, and unfortunately Granderson hit that grand slam," interim manager Juan Samuel said. "We were hoping that he would keep us close in the game."

For the majority of the season, that's exactly what Millwood (0-7) has done, although it has largely been for naught. His 3.89 ERA over 11 outings was the lowest ERA for a winless pitcher over that same stretch since Rick Langford opened the 1978 season in Oakland with 11 straight winless decisions. When asked whether the lack of offensive support had started to frustrate him, Millwood said that wasn't the case.

"We got plenty of runs [Tuesday], I just didn't make good pitches," he said. "It's as simple as that."

"That's a team over there that you get guys on base and you make one bad pitch, and they're able to put up three or four runs in a hurry," added catcher Matt Wieters.

"I have no doubt that [Millwood will] get back to pitching like he was earlier in the year."

To be fair, the Orioles who followed Millwood struggled just as much to contain the defending World Series champion Yankees lineup. Reliever Mark Hendrickson allowed four earned runs and recorded just one out in the seventh inning before being replaced by Matt Albers. First baseman and Maryland native Mark Teixeira took Albers yard to cap a six-run frame and give the Yankees a nine-run cushion.

There were bright spots -- most notable, the Orioles' seven runs scored. It was the most offense Baltimore had mustered since a 13-7 loss at Texas on May 20, and more runs than its previous four losses combined.

Lou Montanez and Wieters each had RBI singles in the fourth, and Ty Wigginton extended on his team-leading 34 RBIs with a run-scoring single in the following frame.

With a nine-run deficit heading into the eighth, Adam Jones blasted a one-out, two-run homer. The O's kept coming with Nick Markakis' two-run double in the ninth.

"We know that they're going to keep playing and keep playing hard," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the Orioles. "We're fortunate that Curtis had a huge hit and gave us a nice little lead. They chipped away and Swish had a big hit. They always play us tough, and this is a tough place to play."

But the Orioles' offense was largely too little, too late as the club dropped its 11th game in 12 tries. Baltimore won its first game against the Yankees on April 27, but has lost nine straight to New York since then.

Hughes became the 43rd opposing starter to pitch at least six innings against Baltimore, picking up his second win in three starts against the O's this season.

"We need the [wins]," Jones said, when asked about his homer. "The personal accolades take care of themselves, but I'd rather have the 'W.'"

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.