BALTIMORE (AP) – The Baltimore Orioles are stuck in a losing streak that is becoming both troublesome and dangerous.
Baltimore’s skid reached four games Friday night with a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies. There’s still plenty of time for the Orioles to make up ground in the AL East and the wild-card race, but they’re chasing several teams and can’t afford to fall too far off the pace.
“We’ve got to go out there and play better,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “Not just better, but smarter. Team-oriented. Keep grinding.”
The Orioles ended a 14-year run of losing last season and reached the playoffs. Getting back there won’t be easy, especially after three straight one-run losses in Arizona recently and this defeat at home against a sub-.500 team.
“I think this is honestly something that we needed, kind of a kick in the pants to wake us up,” Jones said. “We’re in a unique position, in back-to-back years trying to do something special. Last year, everybody said we couldn’t. This year, we created the expectation. This is something you’ve got to go through to get to it.”
Colorado hit four home runs, including a tiebreaking, two-run shot by Wilin Rosario in the seventh inning.
Charlie Culberson, Charlie Blackmon and Todd Helton also homered for the Rockies, who have won six of seven. It was Culberson’s first major league home run in 55 at-bats.
Juan Nicasio (7-6) allowed two runs, four hits and four walks over six innings to earn his first win in five starts since July 20. The right-hander yielded 15 runs over 14 innings in his previous three outings and was 0-3 with a 7.79 ERA in four interleague starts this season.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-6) retired 12 of his first 13 batters but couldn’t get out of the seventh inning. He gave up four runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings in losing his third straight start. It was only the second time in 15 starts this season that Chen allowed more than three runs.
“Early innings I felt really good, but had some trouble in the late innings,” Chen said through a translator. “I feel bad because it’s my fault. I couldn’t keep the guys in the ballgame. But tomorrow is another day and we still have 41 games to go.”
Nate McLouth and Matt Wieters homered for the Orioles, who blew a 2-0 lead by giving up runs in the fifth through ninth innings.
With the score tied at 2 in the seventh, Chen walked leadoff hitter Michael Cuddyer and Rosario hit the left-hander’s next pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.
Blackmon made it 5-2 in the eighth with a pinch-hit homer off Francisco Rodriguez. It was the 73rd homer in Camden Yards history to land on Eutaw Street, far beyond the right-field wall.
“I don’t really know anything about it. They were telling me after the game that it’s cool if you can do it,” Blackmon said. “They’ll give you a plaque out there with your name on it, and there’s not a whole lot of plaques with my name on it going up anywhere.”
Helton connected in the ninth off struggling reliever Jim Johnson. It was the major league-leading 156th home run allowed by Baltimore this season.
Wieters homered in the bottom half against Rex Brothers.
The game started well for the Orioles. McLouth hit Nicasio’s third pitch into the bleachers, his 12th career leadoff homer and second this year.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the third when Jones singled in a run to break an 0-for-15 skid. Nicasio then retired Nick Markakis and Wieters with the bases loaded.
Chen was in complete control early. After Troy Tulowitzki hit a one-out double in the first, the left-hander retired 10 straight batters before Rosario doubled leading off the fifth. One batter later, Nolan Arenado delivered an RBI single.
Culberson connected in the sixth to tie it at 2.
NOTES: NOTES: After the game, the Orioles optioned OF Henry Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk. They are expected to recall a reliever on Saturday. … Rodriguez left in the eighth inning with a strained right groin. … Blackmon is 5 for 13 as a pinch hitter. … Baltimore pitching coach Rick Adair went on a leave of absence to resolve some personal issues and was replaced by bullpen coach Bill Castro. … Bud Norris takes the mound for the Orioles on Saturday night in the second game of the series. Chad Bettis makes his fourth big league start for the Rockies. … J.J. Hardy’s 11-game hitting streak ended, as did teammate Brian Roberts’ run of three straight multihit games for Baltimore.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)