BALTIMORE -- On an afternoon when David Murphy picked up his first hit of the season and Jason Jennings suffered his first blown save as a reliever, Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy put the blame for this loss on his shoulders. The Rangers needed one "shutdown" inning from him and didn't get it. Instead, McCarthy and Jennings combined to let a four-run lead slip away and the Baltimore Orioles rallied for an 8-5 victory on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards. McCarthy, after home runs by Murphy and Hank Blalock gave the Rangers a 5-1 lead in a three-run top of the fifth, immediately gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning to allow the Orioles (9-10) to get right back in the game.
"To me, that's the game right there," McCarthy said. "I couldn't be more disappointed with what happened in the fifth. They gave me three runs, and it's time to get a shutdown inning. Giving up those runs, that's unacceptable. That's the tipping point that could have pushed us in the right direction or the wrong direction." His manager agreed with him. "The fifth inning killed us," Ron Washington said. "Once you get that lead, you want to shut them off and keep that momentum." McCarthy got through the first inning in just six pitches but need 85 to get past the next four on a hot and humid afternoon. He faced 25 batters, and 12 reached base on nine hits and three walks. He was physically pushing it in the fifth. "I just wasn't comfortable throwing strikes," McCarthy said. "I just didn't feel comfortable mechanically. I don't have an explanation. It's something I have to figure out immediately. "I was fighting myself. I was putting myself in bad counts, and it got to the point where they were excited to face me. You can't let that happen. You can't let a good hitting team like that be hungry and excited to face you." The Rangers (8-10) still had a one-run lead, but Jennings (0-1) couldn't hold it, giving up a three-run home run to Adam Jones in the bottom of the sixth. Jennings started the inning by getting Felix Pie on a bunt back to the mound, then hit Cesar Izturis, the Orioles' No. 9 hitter, with a 2-2 slider on the foot. The pitch was far more painful to the Rangers than to Izturis. "He had him right there and got around a slider too much," Washington said. Brian Roberts, who had a four-hit afternoon, then bounced a 2-2 pitch through the left side on a hit-and-run to put runners at the corners. "Roberts did a good job," Jennings said. "He executed well and found a hole. That's why he is who he is. I don't feel I threw the ball that badly today, but I just got myself in a jam and couldn't get out of it." Jones followed with his three-run home run over the left-center-field wall to give the Orioles the lead. "The pitch to Jones wasn't good and it wasn't terrible," Jennings said. "The ball was going out of here pretty good, and he hit it in the right spot." Jones hit it to left-center at Oriole Park, where the six-foot fence is just 364 feet away. "That's a pretty good spot," Jennings said with a touch of sarcasm. That gave the Orioles a 7-5 lead, and the Rangers couldn't catch up. They had 10 hits in four-plus innings against Orioles rookie starter Brad Bergesen, but Texas was just 1-for-17 against relievers Danys Baez, Jim Johnson and George Sherrill. Baez came in with two on and nobody out in the fourth and kept the Rangers from scoring. "The game changed when Baez came in," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. Baez (1-1) struck out Chris Davis and retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a fly to left. Elvis Andrus reached on third baseman Ty Wigginton's error to load the bases, but Ian Kinsler grounded out to shortstop to end the threat. The Rangers didn't get another runner on base until Andruw Jones doubled to lead off the ninth. Texas was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and is hitting .203 in those situations in its past nine games. All five of the Rangers' runs scored on home runs. Davis hit a two-run home run in the second, Murphy led off with one in the fifth and Blalock had a two-run shot that same inning. Texas has 38 home runs in 18 games. Murphy's home run was his first hit of the season after going 0-for-22, just three at-bats short of the club record for most hitless at-bats to start a season. Ted Kubiak was 0-for-25 in 1972. "It's just a breath of fresh air," Murphy said. "I've felt great for four or five days now. You're going to have days where you feel good and still go 0-for, but the fact that I felt clueless for the first few weeks makes it difficult. This is a breath of fresh air. It's nice that I can move past this."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.