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Cobb ineffective as O's lose sixth straight game

Early-season struggles correlate with inability for offense, pitching to click at same time
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

DETROIT -- It feels like a lifetime ago, though only 10 days have passed. The Orioles had a somewhat improbable 12-inning win in the Bronx to secure three of four games against the Yankees -- more wins than they had all of last year in New York. The tides, it seemed like, they were a turnin'.

But any goodwill from that four-game set has long since washed away. That Baltimore club has hardly been recognizable since it boarded the Amtrak bound for home.

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DETROIT -- It feels like a lifetime ago, though only 10 days have passed. The Orioles had a somewhat improbable 12-inning win in the Bronx to secure three of four games against the Yankees -- more wins than they had all of last year in New York. The tides, it seemed like, they were a turnin'.

But any goodwill from that four-game set has long since washed away. That Baltimore club has hardly been recognizable since it boarded the Amtrak bound for home.

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"There's no excuse on anything," Orioles shortstop Manny Machado said following the team's 13-8, series-sweeping loss to Detroit. "We are playing bad and got to clean it up a little bit, and things will turn around."

Video: BAL@DET: Machado drills a pair of solo home runs

The Orioles have lost eight of its last nine games, falling 11 games behind the division-leading Red Sox, and leaving question marks on nearly every facet of its roster. Thursday's loss saw Alex Cobb -- the O's big spring acquisition -- fail to complete four innings for the second time in two starts this season. The bullpen struggled, with righty Mike Wright Jr. giving up five more runs. And while it was encouraging to see the lineup break out for eight runs -- the most scored since the series finale in the Bronx -- it was another frustrating example of the Orioles' recent inability to get both the pitching and hitting to click at once.

"It can be tomorrow, it can be May 3," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said of the team's eventual turnaround. "If it's May 3, there's going to be some trouble. But you never know with [baseball], we can come out tomorrow on a 10-game homestand and win all 10 games and put ourselves in a different scenario.

"It's a cliche, the one game at a time [stuff]. But we need to be better. That's everybody, top to bottom. I think everyone feels the same way because we are a cohesive unit. ... We know [the ability is] there, we just have to continuously have faith in each other and do what we do best, play hard and live with the results."

Over this nine-game stretch, the Orioles -- who have a six-game losing streak -- have been outscored, 55-29. The lineup -- which has struggled as a collective unit -- worked from behind early on Thursday as an error and some well-placed ground balls off Cobb gave way to a four-run second inning.

Two of the runs were unearned due to Tim Beckham's off-base throw to start the frame, and after a scoreless third, Cobb surrendered Leonys Martin's triple and Jeimer Candelario followed with a two-run homer.

"Command is not where it's going to be," manager Buck Showalter said of Cobb, who has allowed 10 hits in both of his starts this year. "We didn't play particularly well defensively behind him too, we gave up a lot of outs, some things that don't show up in the error column -- double plays that weren't turned."

The O's righty -- signed to a four-year contract last month -- was ultimately charged with 10 hits and seven runs (five earned), forcing Showalter to go to the bullpen in the fourth inning.

"You come into the offseason wanting to -- when you're a free agent -- join a winning team and contribute, and be a big reason why [your team is] winning ballgames. I feel like it's almost the opposite right now. I'm coming in here and putting them behind the eight-ball in terms of the overall score and eating up the bullpen a lot," Cobb said. "I still feel a little bit behind where everyone else is, and you can't miss a beat when you're up here. These guys take advantage of anybody that's off a little bit. So, it's my job to get better, and get better as quick as possible and come out here and try to be that guy I wanted to be in the beginning."

Wright replaced Cobb and he allowed five runs -- including Martin's grand slam -- in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

Machado homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the offense, with Chris Davis also going deep for a two-run shot off of Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann in the second inning. Zimmermann went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits.

Video: BAL@DET: Davis belts an opposite-field two-run homer

"Oof. It's frustrating," Jones said of the offense breaking out and the pitching and defense struggling. "We all come to the park with a plan and sometimes that plan doesn't work out. We put up some runs and gave up two big innings that were hard to come back from ... they hurt. We got to do better at taking care of the ball, securing the ball, take the out that's given to you."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Not Wright: It would be unfair to judge the day on any one hit, though Martin's grand slam certainly put any Orioles' rallying hopes out of reach. Baltimore, only down 7-3 when Cobb exited, watched the deficit balloon to nine. Martin's second homer of the year more than doubled his season RBI total, and gave Detroit a crooked number on the scoreboard.

Video: BAL@DET: Martin belts a grand slam to right

"If we can get some shutdown innings after Alex exited, I felt like we were in the ballgame and we'd make a run at them," Showalter said. "Just couldn't stem the tide after [Cobb left]."

HE SAID IT
"There's no panic in anybody in there. I think guys are frustrated with how things have been turning out. We just got to stay positive and figure it out tomorrow. This will pass." -- Machado

UP NEXT
The Orioles, winless in two road series, will head home to Baltimore to host the Indians for a four-game series starting on Friday, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Staff ace Dylan Bundy will take the mound opposite Trevor Bauer. Bundy is still looking for his first win despite three quality starts and a 1.40 ERA.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Alex Cobb