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Ubaldo's struggles coming at bad time for O's

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound on Friday with a chance to keep Baltimore's four-game winning streak rolling. Instead, the erratic righty allowed double-digit hits for the second consecutive start, as Jimenez is smack dab in the middle of a tough stretch when perhaps his club needs him most.

"I guess I'm leaving a couple pitches up and they're making me pay for it," he said of an Astros team that recorded six runs on 10 hits and a walk in his 5 1/3 innings. "I don't get any breaks, even when they hit it soft, they find the hole."

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BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound on Friday with a chance to keep Baltimore's four-game winning streak rolling. Instead, the erratic righty allowed double-digit hits for the second consecutive start, as Jimenez is smack dab in the middle of a tough stretch when perhaps his club needs him most.

"I guess I'm leaving a couple pitches up and they're making me pay for it," he said of an Astros team that recorded six runs on 10 hits and a walk in his 5 1/3 innings. "I don't get any breaks, even when they hit it soft, they find the hole."

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Jimenez, who allowed six earned runs for the second consecutive start in Friday's 8-7 loss to Houston, was able to pitch into the sixth. But with just one quality start -- an eight-inning gem on June 29 -- in his past six games, it's fair to begin to wonder what the next step is for the righty, who has a 7.19 ERA and is in the final year of a four-year, $50 million deal.

The 33-year-old Jimenez has already been sent to the bullpen once this season, making a career-high five relief appearances. The O's moved him back to the rotation because they don't have the personnel to have a starter in the 'pen.

"It's always a possibility [to demote Jimenez to the 'pen], but you can say that about a few other guys, too," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Certainly another topic after he has a tough outing and I understand why, but we'll see. He's capable of better."

Yes, Jimenez isn't alone, as the starters have been a group that has collectively struggled this season (Dylan Bundy is the only starter with an ERA under 4.50). But Jimenez is making a lot of money and his time with the O's is winding down.

Is there anyone down in the Minors the Orioles can try to test out?

"Yes, there is," Showalter said. "There's always that possibility. Now you've got seven pitching staffs in the organization. There's a lot of guys if that's the description. But there's a lot of ramifications that come with it. I'm focused on trying to make what we have -- which has been good at times and in the past -- as good as it can be. It's capable of better, and that's where I'm dwelling."

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, Ubaldo Jimenez