Gonzalez battles, bats frustrated in O's loss

Allows three runs over five; offense 1-for-9 with RISP, hits into four DPs

Gonzalez battles, bats frustrated in O's loss

BALTIMORE -- A struggling Orioles lineup, saved Monday night by the late-inning heroics of Chris Davis, couldn't cover up their offensive woes on Tuesday night.

Instead, the O's, who got a short start from Miguel Gonzalez, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven in an all-too-familiar scene that culminated in a 4-2 loss to the last-place White Sox.

The defeat, in front of a crowd of 20,596, snapped a three-game winning streak for the Orioles (40-36) and gave Chicago its first road win in nine games. Baltimore, fresh off a 4-2 road trip with series wins in St. Petersburg and New York, has gone 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position and left 17 men on base in the first two games of the homestand.

"That's baseball," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, who went 0-for-4, said of the team's recent stretch. "You go through those little streaks and we are in one of them right now. But we'll look to get out of that and do the best we can."

Down three, the Orioles brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth inning. Davis started things off with an infield single off Scott Downs and, one out later, Machado drove a ball into center field to bring pinch-hitter Delmon Young to the plate. Young connected for an RBI single off of reliever Ronald Belisario, the O's first hit with runners in scoring position. But pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty bounced into a double play to end the game.

"There's not a wrong or good [answer]," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of pinch-hitting for catcher Caleb Joseph in favor of the lefty Flaherty.

"If you look at Belisario's numbers, other than Delmon, he's really tough against right-handers with the slider being his out pitch. A really good pitch for him. We took a pop there. I could have saved Delmon, but you never know what would happen there. You finally get the tying run to the plate, you want to give Delmon a pop at it. He did a good job. Just didn't quite get it in the air enough. He hit it hard enough to leave the park. But it's a tough matchup for anybody."

Gonzalez's outing didn't help matters. The righty turned in his second consecutive five-inning outing as he looked off all night. Gonzalez allowed a solo homer to Gordon Beckham one out into the game but was able to limit the damage, giving up three runs despite 12 baserunners.

"He was laboring," Joseph said of Gonzalez's 87-pitch outing. "Just trying to get some of the mechanics worked out. He was kinda struggling with some mechanics there, which led to mislocations. He did a good job keeping us within reach, giving us five. He got into some jams there and was able to work out of them. Could've been a lot worse."

Gonzalez allowed a second-inning run on Alejandro De Aza's single, but stranded a pair of baserunners after a double-steal attempt saw second baseman Jonathan Schoop throw home to nab Alexei Ramirez. Gonzalez gave up another run in the fourth, but stranded the bases loaded, and juiced them again in the fifth, but got a popup and double-play ball to wiggle free of any damage.

"I'm healthy,"said Gonzalez, who has struggled with his command in both starts since coming off the disabled list. "Just got to keep working hard and keep having my team in the game. I think that's the most important thing."

Gonzalez was replaced by lefty T.J. McFarland, who went two scoreless innings to keep the game in check. McFarland has allowed just one run over his last 14 2/3 innings and gave the offense a chance to work.

But the Orioles couldn't get anything going off White Sox starter Jose Quintana, who allowed only red-hot Steve Pearce's homer over seven innings. After Pearce put the O's on the board with a sixth-inning shot, Adam Jones just missed going back-to-back with a double off the fence. But Quintana struck out Nelson Cruz and Davis and got J.J. Hardy to fly out to keep the O's chasing.

"He was good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Quintana's first win in four starts. "He was attacking with his fastball. He really wasn't picking around the zone. He was throwing hard and locating."

Manny Machado opened the seventh with a single, giving the O's their fourth leadoff runner off of Quintana, and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Schoop's groundout and Markakis' double-play kept them off the scoreboard.

Pearce, who reached base three times, also saw a leadoff walk erased in the eighth.

"He's a guy that short arms the ball and the ball jumps out of his hand," Markakis said of Quintana. "You saw him freeze me there once, CD there once. It is tough to get in a rhythm when you don't see the ball behind his back and he short-arms it with good velocity. It's tough."

The White Sox added to their lead in the top of that frame, scoring an unearned run off righty Tommy Hunter. Hunter allowed a leadoff single to Ramirez, who stole second and reached third on a passed ball from Joseph. He scored on a fielder's choice when Joseph missed the tag at the plate.

"Been doing the same play my whole life and technically, once you have the ball, the play is still the same," Joseph said of the new home plate blocking rule that went into effect on Tuesday. "I have to give him a lane to slide into if I don't have the ball, but as soon as I have the ball, I'm free to make the tag. So, I had the ball in plenty of time and just wasn't aggressive with it. I kind of got caught between the ball and my natural tendency. Next time I'm going to go with my natural tendency and not screw it up."

The Orioles are 1-4 in games after walk-off wins and 17-18 at home versus a winning road record of 23-18. But Showalter isn't one to get bogged down too much with one game.

"If you look at the last five or six guys we've faced, they're as good a pitchers as you want to find," Showalter said. "Come through that stretch of games about as good as you can hope when you draw it up. We'd like to win every one of them, but we know what reality is."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.