Lowe shoulders load for Indians in defeat

Lowe shoulders load for Indians in defeat

Lowe shoulders load for Indians in defeat
BALTIMORE -- Derek Lowe refused to blame the sweltering conditions at Camden Yards for causing fatigue. He also would not fault his fielders for the frustrating first inning that set a chaotic tone to a wild see-saw affair with the Orioles.

Lowe only blamed himself for Friday night's adventure.

In a game that included baseballs soaring along with the temperature, Lowe pointed to a single pitch that he viewed as the breaking point in a 9-8 loss for the Indians. It was a pitch specifically picked by the veteran sinkerballer and one that resulted in the baseball landing outside the stadium entirely.

"When it hit the warehouse," Lowe said, "I was pretty sure it wasn't going to come back."

The ill-fated offering that had Lowe steaming after the game was a first-pitch sinker to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters in the sixth inning. Of the 1,577 pitches that have flown from Lowe's fingers this season, it was this one to Wieters that gnawed at Cleveland's 39-year-old starter in the aftermath of a slugfest.

Wieters' blast -- a three-run shot that landed on Eutaw St. beyond the outer right-field fence -- turned the Indians' 5-4 advantage into a a 7-5 lead for Baltimore. The Tribe would rally again to make things interesting, but the Orioles came away the victors, dropping Cleveland to a 2-6 mark on their current road trip.

Adding to the defeat was the loss of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who suffered a fractured right ulna bone in his forearm after being hit by a pitch from Baltimore reliever Troy Patton in the fifth inning. Chisenhall will need surgery and is expected to miss at least four to six weeks as a result.

With the loss, the Indians also slipped a season-high 3 1/2 games behind the White Sox in the American League Central.

"I take full responsibility for this game," Lowe said. "That was the dumbest pitch that I've thrown in a long time -- to Wieters -- and it was my call. You just can't get beat in. Even though it wasn't technically late in the game, obviously, I think everybody is fatigued on both sides because of the heat.

"It was my call to throw a sinker inside. You've got to make the guy hit the ball the other way. It was probably the single most frustrating pitch that I've thrown all year. You think you would know better, but it was very maddening."

Maddening might have a better description for the first inning, but Lowe brushed off the comedy of errors that spotted Baltimore a quick, 3-0, lead.

"That had nothing to do with it," Lowe said.

A throwing error by first baseman Casey Kotchman and a fielding gaffe by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera -- a pair of elite defenders -- set the stage for the Orioles' three-run push in the first. Throw in an infield single by Adam Jones, and it was clear that luck was not on Cleveland's side in the opening frame.

"There's 27 outs, and every single one of them is precious," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I felt that the first inning basically cost us."

Kotchman felt terrible for costing Lowe extra pitches.

"I yanked the throw to him from my knees there," Kotchman said. "That just kind of started it all. That started the fiasco there. You make that play and then you keep his pitch count down and he doesn't have that long inning. He pitched a great game."

Indeed, Lowe was sharp for a span of 22 hitters between the first and sixth innings. Baltimore managed just one earned run on three hits over that stretch, during which Lowe created 13 outs via grounders and two more choppers that resulted in errors. Overall, the right-hander gave up seven runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings.

"Derek threw the ball very well," Acta said.

That run by Lowe bought time for the Tribe's lineup to rally.

Michael Brantley contributed an RBI single in the first inning and Cabrera launched a solo homer off Orioles starter Jake Arrieta in the third. Cabrera's shot -- his 11th of the season -- also carried to Eutaw Street, making him the 38th opponent in the history of Camden Yards to send a home run to the foot of the warehouse.

In the fourth inning, Shin-Soo Choo drew a bases-loaded walk and Jason Kipnis ended Arrieta's evening with a two-run, two-out single that pushed Cleveland to a 5-3 lead. That lead proved to be short-lived, given that Baltimore struck for one run in the fifth, three in the sixth and tacked on one more in each of the seventh and eighth innings.

Baltimore's last run came courtesy of Xavier Avery's first career home run, a solo blast off Indians closer Chris Perez.

That was enough to hold off the Tribe's late comeback bid.

"We were able to string some hits together," Kotchman said. "We just came up a little short there at the end."

Over his past eight outings for Cleveland, Lowe has gone 1-5 with a 7.33 ERA, allowing 35 earned runs on 60 hits over 43 innings. In his first eight starts of the season, the right-hander went 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA, which was the best mark in the AL at that point in time. In that early stretch, Lowe relinquished just 12 earned runs on 59 hits across 52 2/3 innings.

In his latest lapse, Lowe's undoing began with consecutive one-out singles and culminated in the towering home run from Wieters. Asked why he chose to go with the sinker inside, Lowe said it was simply a gut feeling.

"It was 100 percent my call," Lowe said. "It was just a stupid pitch and he made me pay for it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.