After perfect start, Friedrich stumbles vs. O's

Left-hander retires first nine batters he faces, before allowing four runs in 4th

After perfect start, Friedrich stumbles vs. O's

SAN DIEGO -- For three innings Wednesday against the Orioles, Christian Friedrich was perfect.

The 28-year-old lefty faced the minimum on just 28 pitches, while throwing all four of his pitches effectively for strikes. That all collapsed in the fourth inning, though, when Adam Jones led off with a four-pitch walk, sparking a four-run fourth inning that helped the Orioles hand San Diego a 12-6 loss.

After Jones walked, Jonathan Schoop doubled and was subsequently driven in by a Manny Machado single. Two batters later, Mark Trumbo hit his Major League-leading 23rd home run of the season.

"Yeah, [the] leadoff walk, then falling behind with the double, then not executing a breaking ball early to Machado," Friedrich said. "And then Trumbo's swinging a hot bat right now. [I] tried to go in on him. [He's a] good hitter -- got his hands in and launched it."

After maneuvering through Baltimore's lineup with apparent ease through the first three innings, a five-batter sequence in the fourth crumbled what was shaping up to be an excellent outing for Friedrich, who has now allowed 14 earned runs over his last three starts.

"It's a tough order to navigate two and three times [through the Orioles' lineup]," said Padres manager Andy Green, who was ejected for the second time in his managerial career. "A lot of really good bats. I think the leadoff walk to Adam Jones in the fourth inning put him in a little bit of a hole. ... They've got a good offensive baseball club."

While it's easy to look at Friedrich's overall line Wednesday and dismiss his results, the first three innings of the game put his potential on display. His slider, in particular, showed a lot of life, helping the 6-foot-4 southpaw finish five of his seven strikeouts.

In total, Friedrich threw 10 sliders and generated whiffs on five of them -- far and away the best swing-and-miss pitch for him on the day.

"I think it's always been one of my better pitches, especially [as] an out pitch," Friedrich said. "But when we're mixing and matching all of the other pitches, it definitely makes it a little bit better."

Perhaps his best at-bat of the game came against Machado in the first inning, when Friedrich pitched backwards with a 77-mph curveball to set things up, before finishing the Orioles' third baseman with back-to-back sliders.

Three pitches, three swings and misses to one of the best young hitters in the game.

"Yeah, first three innings he was off the charts," Green said. "He was outstanding. He was burying his breaking stuff down and in, getting a lot of chases. Ran through kind of the meat of the order the first time."

The next step is sustaining and commanding that through an order repeatedly -- something that's certainly easier said than done.

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.