BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman had his best start of the season on Monday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The righty, working with a tweaked delivery he started using during his last outing in Detroit, worked in and out of the zone. He held Cleveland to four hits over eight brilliant innings. He even recorded an immaculate seventh inning, needing nine pitches to strike out Yonder Alonso, Yan Gomes and Bradley Zimmer.
But it didn't matter. Gausman's effort went for naught as the Orioles' offense continues to struggle at historic proportions. Baltimore was flummoxed by Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco, falling 2-1 to mark its 11th loss in 13 games. After winning the opener on Friday, the Orioles -- held to three or fewer runs for the 16th time in 23 games -- lost three of four to the Indians.
"If we consider ourselves a playoff team, then we've got to compete with those teams, whether it's early in the season, late in the season, whenever," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said of a tough stretch in the schedule that included 2017 postseason teams like Cleveland.
"We've got to find a way to push a runner across. I hate to try to take anything positive away from a loss, but we're in these games all the way to the end. We've just got to find a way to scratch [across] a few more runs."
Ten times already this season the Orioles have scored two or fewer runs. They entered the day with the worst batting average and on-base percentage in the Majors. And Gausman suffered the same fate as his rotation brethren the past two weeks, the hard-luck loser despite an outing that he should be proud of.
Gausman has made three consecutive quality starts and, like Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner, is pitching well enough to win games. On Monday, he got better as things went along, ending things emphatically with an eighth-inning strikeout of Jason Kipnis.
"When you get kind of hot like that, as a starter, it makes it a lot easier," Gausman said. "You get quick outs and are able to get some strikeouts in there on really good pitches. I threw too many pitches early in the game, but I was able to come back and get some big outs."
But as Baltimore falls further and further back in the standings, it is becoming tougher and tougher to see the positive in each defeat.
The Orioles are frustrated, as evidenced by center fielder Adam Jones slamming down his helmet after stranding two runners in the eighth. They aren't getting the breaks or the bounces, and they're squandering some really good starting pitching.
"There's things that we gained from them pitching well in the bullpen. You're talking about W's and L's. Yeah, when you get that type of pitching performance, you feel like you need to win the game," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "But they got a good pitching performance, and that's why they're as successful as they are. You're sitting there looking at Carrasco and you're looking at [Andrew] Miller and [Cody] Allen. It's pretty tough going. So, when you get a chance to cash something in, you better do it."
The only two runs allowed by Gausman came on Alonso's homer in the second inning. He retired 21 of the next 23 batters after that, striking out seven and walking just one.
But those two runs were all Carrasco would need. The righty, who threw just 49 pitches to get through five innings, held the O's to one run over 7 1/3 frames to improve to 4-0 and run his consecutive win streak to 10.
The Orioles looked poised to have a big inning in the second after a pair of singles by Jones and Davis put runners on the corners and, one out later, Chance Sisco's single brought the O's within a run. But Carrasco snagged Anthony Santander's screaming liner back up the middle and fired to first base to easily double up Davis.
Carrasco pitched around a one-out double in the seventh by Danny Valencia, striking out Sisco and getting Santander to fly out.
"We had a couple hard-hit balls that … I thought the double play with Santander was tough because that ball's probably headed up the middle," Showalter said of the second-inning liner. "When you're having your struggles offensively, those are the type of things that seem to happen."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
For the second consecutive game, the Orioles chased a Tribe starter only to deal with Miller. After a one-out single by Timothy Beckham ended Carrasco's night, Miller struck out pinch-hitter Trey Mancini. Manny Machado -- named the co-American League Player of the Week -- found a hole at short to give the O's two baserunners, but Jones grounded out to quash the rally.
MANCINI BACK, BECKHAM HURT
Mancini, who left Friday's game after slamming his right knee into the unpadded part of the outfield wall, pinch-hit for Pedro Alvarez and struck out in the eighth inning.
Beckham, who singled before Mancini hit, was removed for pinch-hitter Luis Sardinas. The infielder is dealing with groin and Achilles soreness.
"I'll know a lot more tomorrow and after tonight, but it's a concern," Showalter said of Beckham, who was examined by head athletic trainer Brian Ebel after his one-out single. "I'm a little more concerned about the groin right now. Really, both of them." More >
Gausman is the first Orioles pitcher to record an immaculate inning since 1988.
HE SAID IT
"I didn't realize it until I got in the dugout. [My teammates] were a little more pumped up than they'd normally be. Told me I tied Major League history or something. I did it in college once before. But to do it in the big leagues is obviously a little different." -- Gausman, on the immaculate inning
Alex Cobb will face his former team at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday as Tampa Bay comes to town. Cobb took the loss after surrendering seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings on Thursday against Detroit. Cobb's Orioles tenure is off to a rocky start, as he has allowed 15 runs (12 earned) through just seven innings in his first two starts. He'll be opposed by righty Jake Faria.