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SEA@BAL: Wieters cracks solo home run to right

BALTIMORE -- When the Orioles traded for Scott Feldman, it was seen as a targeted effort to improve a shaky pitching staff with a starter who had been consistent and could consume innings.

Feldman didn't look like that pitcher Saturday.

Making his sixth start roughly a month after he was acquired in a trade with the Cubs to help bolster the Orioles starting rotation, Feldman pitched poorly and failed to get out of the fifth inning. The veteran right-hander last just 4 2/3 innings and allowed five earned runs in an 8-4 loss to the Mariners, as the Orioles dropped the second game of a three-game set in front of 35,231 at Camden Yards.

It was his shortest start with the Orioles, and the team fell to 8-16 at home when a starter fails to go at least six innings. By contrast, they're 25-9 when the man who began the game finishes the sixth.

"Any time you don't feel like you're doing your job, it's disappointing," Feldman said after his second consecutive short start. He gave up four earned runs over five innings to the Red Sox in his previous start. "But at the same time, in baseball, if you hang your head every time something doesn't go your way, you're not going to last too long in this game."

The Orioles dropped a game in the American League East standings, with first-place Boston and second-place Tampa Bay both winning Saturday night. Baltimore, which is now 5 1/2 games out of the AL East lead, also snapped its streak of consecutive home wins over the Mariners, which had reached seven with Friday's night's slugfest win.

Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak got to Feldman in the second for a solo homer. They added a run in the fourth when Brad Miller hit a bases-loaded blooper to left that fell in front of Nate McLouth.

Unlike Chris Tillman's shaky performance Friday night, Feldman's rocky start came on a night the offense couldn't bail him out. The unit stalled through six innings Saturday against Erasmo Ramirez, just one night after stuffing the box score with 11 runs.

Matt Wieters -- the only Orioles starter that didn't score at least one run in Friday's outburst -- broke an 0-for-25 skid with a solo homer in the second, and Manny Machado chipped in a solo shot in the fourth. But those were the only two hits for the Orioles off Ramirez through six innings.

The right-hander, making his fourth start of the season, retired 16 of the first 18 Orioles hitters he faced, before the offense finally strung some hits together and scored a pair in the seventh.

In the Mariners' fifth, Kyle Seager walked, stole second, and scored on Michael Morse's broken-bat RBI single to right. The next batter singled and ended Feldman's night.

Long reliever T.J. McFarland entered the game with runners at first and second. The first batter he faced, Michael Saunders, hit a three-run homer to right, stretching the Mariners' lead to 6-2.

"It's pretty basic," Feldman said of his struggles. "Just really falling behind on everybody and walking guys, just no command of the baseball. I've got a few days to get that ironed out for my next one and just go from there. But when you're pitching behind and not hitting your spots, it makes pitching a lot tougher."

Manager Buck Showalter defended Feldman, who was part of the reason the Mariners stranded 12 men on base in the game.

"Just command issues," Showalter said. "We were fortunate, they could have scored a lot more runs. He competed well."

The right-hander has now failed to finish six innings in three of his six starts for the Orioles. So has Feldman, whom Showalter knew from their time together with the Texas Rangers, just been out of sync since he arrived?

"Overall, no. Tonight he was. Scotty's better than that," Showalter said. "He'll figure it out. He's a smart, young man, very athletic. Just missing [locations]."

Wieters said the hot-hitting Mariners lineup had as much to do with the final results as did Feldman's lack of command.

"You get some pitches in the middle of the zone and they've got a lineup that has some power hitters in it, and they were able to put some good swings on some balls," Wieters said. "Getting ahead is probably the most important thing. [Feldman] just fell behind a few times tonight."

The Orioles brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh inning after Showalter was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but they fell short.

The first batter of the seventh inning, Nick Markakis, took issue with a strike call and Showalter argued on Markakis' behalf. Showalter was tossed for the second time this season and then started fuming at home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

The tirade may have rallied or the troops or may have been merely coincidence, but the Orioles pushed two runs across later that inning.

Markakis singled and moved to third on Adam Jones' double. Markakis scored on Chris Davis' sacrifice fly to left, bring the O's within three runs. Wieters drove home Jones with a single to left-center, making it 6-4.

In the eighth inning, Machado hit a two-out double to the right field corner, his first two-bagger since July 6. Machado still leads the Majors in doubles with 40, despite the nearly month-long drought. Markakis then worked a walk to bring Jones to the plate as the go-ahead run. But Jones flew out to center on the first pitch, smothering the potential rally.

"With those guys in that other clubhouse, you've got to put up runs," said Smoak, who was childhood friends with Wieters growing up in Goose Creek, S.C. "Those guys can hit and they've done it all year. We put up eight last night and eight tonight. We had a chance to win, and our pitchers did great tonight."

"I'm talking to [Wieters] all the time," added Smoak, who went -for-3 with two walks, a homer and a double. "Great guy, great player and it's always fun to compete against him. People in Goose Creek are happy tonight."

It's likely that many Orioles fans, however, were not happy.

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