"Today was just one of those days."
The Sox saw their four-game winning streak end as losing pitcher Dan Wright gave up five runs on five hits and three walks in just two innings. Plus the bullpen's streak of 102/3 scoreless innings was broken as Lorenzo Barcelo allowed four runs in four innings of relief.
"[Wright] was behind in the count a lot, and it's hard to pitch like that," catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "The bottom line is we have to throw strikes."
Wright (1-1) struggled from the start, walking two of Baltimore's first three batters--leadoff hitter Melvin Mora and No. 3 man David Segui. Had it not been for Kenny Lofton's great catch against the center-field wall on Jeff Conine's fly ball, the right-hander might not have made it out of the first inning. The Orioles did manage one run in the first when Jay Gibbons singled in Mora.
The Sox came right back, however. Lofton led off with a triple down the left-field line and scored on Magglio Ordonez's single past diving third baseman Tony Batista. Paul Konerko's double to the gap in right-center scored Ordonez for a 2-1 lead.
But Wright walked the leadoff batter again. This time it was Marty Cordova, who, after a Mike Bordick single, scored on Mora's first home run of the year for a 4-2 Orioles advantage. The homer came on an 0-2 pitch.
"That pitch was supposed to be up and in," Alomar said. "But instead [Wright] left it right there."
When Wright gave up a double to Gibbons to lead off the third inning, Manuel had seen enough and called on Barcelo.
"[Wright] just didn't seem to be making the adjustments in the strike zone," Manuel said. "He just couldn't find the right arm slot. When that happens, it's difficult to throw strikes."
Wright's three walks in two innings were as many as he had walked in his first 131/3 innings this season.
"I just didn't get the ball down," Wright said. "I'll go back and look at it [on tape] and figure out what I did wrong. But I won't dwell on it.
"Basically, when you have a bad outing, you have to shake it off."
Baltimore increased its lead to 5-2 on Geronimo Gil's two-out single in the third. An inning later, after a two-run single by Segui, Gibbons hit a two-run homer off Barcelo for a 9-2 advantage.
Meanwhile, Baltimore starter Calvin Maduro (1-1) retired eight consecutive Sox before Carlos Lee crushed a solo home run into the left-field seats to lead off the fifth inning. Maduro, a righty, pitched six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs.
Lee failed to knock in runs during potential sixth- and eighth-inning rallies. He grounded into a double play with two runners on in the sixth, and he flied out with runners on first and third in the eighth after Jose Valentin's two-out RBI single.
"We had opportunities to get it done," said Frank Thomas, who was 0-for-5 and left five men on base. "I just didn't get it done. I had some good pitches that I just missed."
A final Sox rally attempt failed in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and one out, Ray Durham flied out and Thomas grounded out.
"We've got to come back tomorrow, put it back together, score some runs and get us back on the winning track," Thomas said.
Captions: PHOTO (color): Sox center fielder Kenny Lofton robs Baltimore's Jeff Conine of a home run in the first inning Sunday. Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez.