BALTIMORE -- Brian Matusz gave the Orioles one of the best starts of his young career on Saturday night. He threw eight stellar innings, befuddling the Mets with his changeup and rarely getting into any trouble.
But with the offensive woes the Orioles are battling, starters can't make many mistakes. That's why even though Matusz gave up just three runs on just five hits in eight innings, it just wasn't good enough, and the Mets pulled out a 3-1 victory before 42,248 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Matusz (2-7) gave up two solo homers and three other hits but not much else. He struck out four and didn't walk any in a career-best eight-inning effort. Seventy-two of his 96 pitches were strikes, but he lost a seventh consecutive decision and now has gone 10 starts without a victory.
"I was just attacking the zone today," Matusz said. "All my pitches were working really well, and it's something I can carry over to my next start. I felt like I was in a good groove."
The Mets put runners into scoring position only three times against Matusz, who constantly kept them off balance with that wicked changeup.
"His changeup was awesome," said New York's Jeff Francoeur. "That's one of the better changeups I've seen. He's going to win a lot of games."
Francoeur was one of just a few of the Mets (34-28) who could hit Matusz. Jose Reyes led off the game with a solo homer, and Francoeur did the same to start the eighth for a two-run lead.
But the key play came in the sixth, when the Mets had runners on first and third with one out. David Wright bounced one right back to Matusz, who turned and threw to Julio Lugo at second, but Lugo's relay to first was high and pulled Ty Wigginton off the bag. That let Wright reach and Ruben Tejada score from third to break a 1-1 tie.
"We couldn't execute on that ground ball back to the pitcher, the double play, and it cost us the ballgame," said Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel.
But the song remained the same for the offense. The Orioles (17-45) went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position -- they're now hitting only .218 in those scenarios this season -- and wasted some good chances.
Nick Markakis hit an RBI double in the first off Hisanori Takahashi (5-2) to tie the score at 1, but the Orioles couldn't do anything else after that. They left runners in scoring position in the first, third, fifth, seventh and eighth innings, a problem they've had all season.
Baltimore had four hits in the first three innings but got just two in the final six, as Takahashi settled in for seven solid frames. Pedro Feliciano took over for Takahashi and threw a scoreless eighth, then Francisco Rodriguez closed it out in the ninth for his 13th save.
"It's really frustrating when you have opportunities," said Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott. "It's been very difficult. There's just been things that haven't gone our way, from large strike zones to hitting the ball right at people."
Samuel said the Orioles are in a funk right now. When bad things happen, they hurt them -- and it's been this way all season long.
"It seems like [if] you don't make the play, it costs you," Samuel said. "When things are going right, you don't make the plays and it does not cost you. It's just part of the game."
Samuel said that there's no major mystery in regard to the team's offensive problems. The O's are getting runners on base, but they're not getting the big hits at the right times. That's what happened again on this night.
Both the players and the skipper said after the game that they're hoping this strange dry spell will end. They don't know when it will happen, but they certainly hope it's soon.
It would certainly make life a lot easier for Matusz and his pitching buddies.
"Hopefully, we will get over it," Samuel said. "We've just got to continue to play, and hopefully we'll break out of it, and we'll start hitting with men in scoring position."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.