Gallardo's short start puts burden on bullpen

Orioles' relievers overworked on difficult road trip

LOS ANGELES -- The Orioles bullpen has tried to hold it together, but the team's starting rotation -- which had pitched to a 7.91 ERA through the first six games of this road trip -- is giving it a near-impossible workload.

Such was the case again Monday night, as Yovani Gallardo's four-inning outing paved the way for Baltimore's season-high fifth consecutive loss. The latest defeat, a 7-5 series-opening loss to the Dodgers, saw manager Buck Showalter call for his 'pen to pick up four innings.

"They put a lot of good at-bats together, but we are really having to pitch people in situations that their best skills are not really suited for that situation," manager Buck Showalter said of his relievers. "But, it is what it is."

Gallardo became the third consecutive Orioles starter to go 4 1/3 innings or fewer, with Baltimore recording quality starts in just two of its past nine games and five of its last 17. Through 82 games this season, the O's 32 quality starts are tied for second-fewest in the American League.

"It's frustrating," Gallardo said of a staff that has allowed 29 earned runs over its last 33 innings pitched. "Obviously we're not pitching the way that we have been throughout the year. It is one of those things that, we understand we'll have those stretches through the year.

"You know, we're going to turn it around. We have to rely on each other for one of us to step up and go deep in the ballgame to get that victory. It hasn't been a good five days for us, just the staff in general. We just have to stay positive and keep going forward."

Gallardo allowed four earned runs on six hits, three walks and two wild pitches, allowing two home runs. He struggled to come up with the shutdown inning when the O's needed it, giving up runs to the Dodgers both times right after Baltimore had scored.

"We've done that to other teams," Showalter said. "We still had a lead going in there [to the fifth]. Kept hoping Yovani would find his step there a little bit. He had some good sequences. Just couldn't string it together. I was surprised. I expected him to be a little bit crisper tonight."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.