SPORTS

Lincoln struggles again as starter, Pirates fall out of 1st place with 8-6 loss to Orioles

06/13/2012 12:19 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT
BALTIMORE - Brad Lincoln is running out of chances to prove he belongs in the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting rotation.

Lincoln didn't make it out of the fifth inning Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles, and the Pirates couldn't rebound from his lacklustre performance in an 8-6 defeat.

Making his third start of the season following six straight appearances out of the bullpen, Lincoln (3-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. Over his past two starts, the right-hander has yielded nine runs and 15 hits over 8 1-3 innings.

"He's been inconsistent in his command his last two starts," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've got him scheduled to pitch the last game in Cleveland (Sunday) but we need him to pitch better."

That could be Lincoln's final opportunity to make an impression as a starter.

"We have the option, if he doesn't pitch better, to put him back in the bullpen," Hurdle said. "We just want to make sure he's not out there to just pitch or pace himself. We need to get him back on track to keep him in the rotation."

Lincoln offered no excuses.

"I didn't have command of any of my pitches," he said.

Baltimore's Brian Roberts had three hits and an RBI in his first game in 13 months after being sidelined with a concussion, and the Orioles hit three homers in ending Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak. The Pirates had won the first game of six straight series before coming up short in this one.

Adam Jones had four hits, including a homer, and Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis also connected for the Orioles. Jones is 14 for 33 (.424) in interleague play this year.

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (6-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Taiwan native improved to 4-0 at Camden Yards and moved into a tie with Jason Hammel for the team lead in wins.

After Neil Walker hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson got two outs for his 19th save.

Casey McGehee also homered for the Pirates, who fell out of a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the NL Central.

Baltimore took advantage of two errant throws in a four-run sixth that made it 8-2. After errors by shortstop Clint Barnes and pitcher Chris Resop, Roberts hit a sacrifice fly, and J.J. Hardy singled in a run before Davis hit a two-run drive.

"It's pretty frustrating," Barnes said. "Routine ball. I rushed my throw. I guess it's more frustrating because we haven't been doing that this year."

The Pirates began the game ranked third in the majors with a .990 field percentage.

Pittsburgh closed to 8-4 in the seventh when Andrew McCutchen drove in a run with a groundout, and McGehee greeted Luis Ayala with a sacrifice fly.

By then, however, the Orioles already had enough runs to up their record in interleague play to 5-2. They were 7-11 last year.

Pittsburgh got a first-inning run when Matt Hague ended a 1-for-17 skid with an RBI single.

Baltimore went up 2-1 in the second when Jones doubled ahead of Reynolds' fourth homer of the season — all in his last 20 games.

After Jones singled in a run in the third, Baltimore left the bases loaded. The Orioles also stranded runners at the corners in the fourth.

Jones hit his 18th homer in the fifth to chase Lincoln, and McGehee hit a solo shot in the sixth to make it 4-2.

NOTES: Baltimore OF Endy Chavez left in the sixth inning with a right hamstring strain. ... Pittsburgh needs to win the next two games to earn a sixth straight series win for the first time since 1992. ... Baltimore optioned INF Steve Tolleson to Triple-A Norfolk and transferred OF Nolan Reimould (back) to the 60-day DL. ... Orioles LHP Brian Matusz was practicing bunting Tuesday when he fouled a ball off his nose. It was only a bruise, and he is expected to make his start Wednesday. Pittsburgh will send Kevin Correia to the mound.

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