BALTIMORE (AP) — After scoring a combined two runs in successive defeats and uncertain about the status of their hard-hitting first baseman, the Baltimore Orioles are limping into their showdown with Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East.
Richie Palacios homered, rookie Drew Rom and four relievers combined on a three-hitter and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Baltimore 1-0 Wednesday night to trim the Orioles' lead in the division to two games.
To make matters worse, Baltimore first baseman Ryan Mountcastle was pulled from the game in the third inning with left shoulder discomfort, and afterward he wasn't too optimistic about bouncing right back.
“It doesn't feel good,” Mountcastle said, adding that he will likely receive an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.
Mountcastle is batting .269 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs. He's also drawn 24 walks in his last 51 games.
Baltimore has lost two straight and three of four heading into a four-game series against the Rays beginning Thursday night. The Orioles have been in first place since July 19, in part because their longest losing streak since that time has been two.
But Baltimore dropped two of three to St. Louis after losing the final game of a series in Boston — not the kind of momentum it was hoping for heading into its most pivotal series this year.
“Any series is tough, but I still think we played pretty good baseball,” said Kyle Gibson, who allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. “The last thing we need to do right now is make too much over one loss and losing a series. We're two games up, and if we play good baseball the last three weeks I think we'll be fine.”
In a game dominated by strong pitching and tight defense, Palacios provided the lone run with a solo shot over the right-field scoreboard in the fourth inning off Gibson (14-9). It was his fourth homer of the season and third in two nights.
Gunnar Henderson’s two-out triple off Ryan Helsley in the ninth inning gave the Orioles a chance to pull even, but Aaron Hicks popped out.
Making his fifth major league start since being traded from Baltimore to the Cardinals on Aug. 1, Rom allowed two hits over 5 1/3 innings and left with a 1-0 lead. Effectively changing speeds and using both sides of the plate, the lefty struck out six and didn't give up a hit until Jorge Mateo beat out a grounder with two outs in the fifth.
Rom, selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by Baltimore, was part of the multi-player deal that send Jack Flaherty to the Orioles.
“He did a real nice job navigating that lineup,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “Outstanding outing.”
Casey Lawrence got two outs after Rom gave up a one-out double to Anthony Santander in the sixth. Giovanny Gallegos and John King worked an inning apiece before Helsley got three outs to earn his ninth save, the second in two nights.
The Cardinals finished with a winning record against every team in the AL East, the only division in the majors with every club above .500. St. Louis was 2-1 vs Baltimore, Toronto, Tampa Bay and New York, and 3-0 vs. Boston.
Cardinals: OF Nolan Gorman was placed on the 10-day injured list after straining his right hamstring on Tuesday night. “Our hope is that this does not end his season,” Marmol said. St. Louis selected the contract of INF Juniel Querecuto from Triple-A Memphis to fill out the roster.... OF Dylan Carlson has decided to undergo season-ending ankle surgery, Marmol said. Carlson, who has been experiencing left ankle discomfort for several months, figured having surgery now would give him a jump on the rehabilitative process heading into the offseason. He finished with a .219 batting average, five HRs and 27 RBIs in 76 games. ... ... C Willson Contreras was not in the starting lineup after leaving Tuesday night's game with a bruised right hand. He is day to day, according to Marmol.
Cardinals: After an off day Thursday, the Cardinals and LH Zach Thompson (5-5, 4.06 ERA) take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Orioles: RH Kyle Bradish (11-6, 3.03) gets the start for Baltimore on Thursday night. He's 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four career starts against the Rays.
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