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Harrell, Astros lose to Orioles 4-3
Tuesday - 7/30/2013, 11:32pm EDT
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Thrust into a starting role only hours before the game, Lucas Harrell gave up only two hits for the Houston Astros.
Unfortunately, each of those hits produced two runs. The right-hander also issued five walks, and the Astros dropped a 4-3 decision to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.
Harrell was pitching because the Astros scratched Bud Norris amid rumors he would be dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline of Wednesday at 4 p.m.
"You have a guy that has attracted a lot of interest from other ballclubs," manager Bo Porter said. "It just made more sense to not risk injury at this juncture of the conversation."
Making his first start since July 5, Harrell (5-11) was decent during his 5 1-3 innings. But three of those five walks turned into runs, the exception being Chris Davis' major league-leading 38th home run.
"I felt like I made a lot of really close misses, pitching in and out to guys," Harrell said. "It's just one of those things where even when guys are on base you've got to keep attacking. I nibbled a little bit, I didn't want to give up the runs."
Jonathan Villar stole home and Robbie Grossman had three hits for the Astros, who are 2-9 since the break. Their 35-70 record is the worst in the majors.
Davis had gone 10 straight games without a long ball until connecting in the sixth to put the Orioles up 4-3. Earlier, Davis extended his run of games with a strikeout to 23, the longest streak in Orioles history.
The slumping slugger came in with a .205 batting average since the All-Star break and hadn't hit a home run since July 14. The drive off Harrell was his first extra-base hit in seven games.
"It's not like I felt terrible," Davis said. "I've been way too aggressive on balls out of the zone. ... That was my goal today, just to be a little more patient. It obviously paid off."
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run single in the fourth inning to start Baltimore's comeback from a three-run deficit. The Orioles got only three hits in winning for the second time in seven games.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-3) allowed three runs, seven hits and a walk in 7 1-3 innings for his fourth straight win. The left-hander had a season-high nine strikeouts.
Darren O'Day got two outs in the eighth and Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for his 36th save.
Chen retired the first seven batters he faced before running into trouble in the third. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Jose Altuve, who bounced a two-run single to left. With the bases full and two outs, Chen went to the stretch with his back toward Villar, who danced halfway down the baseline before breaking for home. He made it easily for a 3-0 lead.
"For me it was easy," Villar said. "Because sometimes when the pitcher doesn't look at me, that's easy for me."
Chen said, "That was embarrassing and that's a lesson I need to learn. I looked down and I had no clue he was going to home."
Baltimore got two runs back in the fourth. After Harrell walked the bases loaded, Hardy got the Orioles' first hit, a single up the middle.
After Nick Markakis drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, Davis hit an opposite-field drive to left.
"I got the ball down, and he hit the ball out," Harrell said. "It was just one of those things where I made a good pitch, and tip your hat to him. He is what he is because of who he is. He hits the ball like that a lot."
NOTES: The game marked the return of Astros 3B coach Dave Trembley to Baltimore. Trembley managed the Orioles from June 2007 to June 2010. ... Houston is 0-7 in Baltimore after being swept in 2005 and 2008. ... The Astros recalled RHP Chia-Jen Lo from Double A Corpus Christi and purchased the contract of RHP Josh Zeid from Triple-A Oklahoma City. RHP Hector Ambriz was optioned to OKC. Zeid made his major league debut in the eighth inning and got two outs. ... Former Oriole Erik Bedard is scheduled to take the mound for the Astros on Wednesday night. Miguel Gonzalez, who's 5-0 at home, will start for Baltimore. ... Chen is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his four starts since returning from the disabled list on July 10.
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