BALTIMORE—The Orioles have lost consecutive series this week at the worst possible time. With their offense vanishing, they wasted a brilliant start from Kyle Bradish and managed just three hits in a 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox before an announced crowd of 16,030 at Camden Yards on Sunday.
The Orioles (73-67) lost two of three to Boston (69-72) after dropping three of four to Toronto. They’ve lost six of eight and were 4-6 on their 10-game homestand in which they hoped to stay close in the wild-card chase.
It was the second time in four games that were held to three hits. On Friday, they had six hits in a 3-2 win over the Red Sox and lost badly, 17-4, on Saturday.
On Sunday, they struck out 14 times were shut out for the ninth time this season.
The Orioles are 5 ½ games behind Seattle and Toronto for the third wild-card spot with just 22 games remaining. They hadn’t dropped consecutive series since losing two of three at Seattle and Minnesota June 27th-July 3rd.
“Every loss at this point is disappointing,” Bradish said. “We still have  games left. We’re going to Toronto [next weekend]. Finish strong.”
Rich Hill (7-6) allowed two hits in five innings, walked three and struck out seven, keeping the Orioles off balance. John Schreiber, Matt Strahm, Garrett Whitlock and Matt Barnes pitched four shutout innings. Barnes retired the Orioles in order in the ninth to earn his fifth save.
“We were pretty empty offensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We didn’t square many balls up.”
With Hill, a 42-year-old a veteran left-hander starting, Hyde sat Cedric Mullins, Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. Mullins came in as part of a double switch to play center field when second baseman Rougned Odor left the game because of a bruised right hand after he was hit by a pitch.
Henderson batted for designated hitter Jesús Aguilar in the sixth, and Rutschman made the final out when he pinch-hit for Robinson Chirinos in the ninth and lined out to right.
“I think right now we have some guys that are scuffling,” Hyde said. “We have really big swings and we need to get back to staying in the middle of the field.”
Austin Hays, who was 0-for-12, had two of the Orioles’ three hits, although the second was a dribbler down the third base line. Shortstop Jorge Mateo is hitless in his last 11 at-bats, hasn’t homered since August 19th and has just three RBIs in his last 15 games. Odor, who’s hitting .199, has just two RBIs since August 14th.
“Right now, we’re taking big swings and getting in bad counts,” Hyde said. “We’ve got to get out of this.”
Ryan Mountcastle, who was robbed of a home run on Saturday by centerfielder Kiké Hernández, had an extra-base hit taken away by Tommy Pham, who crashed into the left-field wall and still held on to the ball to make the catch for the third out of the first inning.
In the third, Odor an Robinson Chirinos struck out. Ryan McKenna walked and Anthony Santander singled McKenna to third before Mountcastle flied to center.
Hill hit Odor with a pitch to begin the fifth and walked Chirinos. McKenna tried to advance the runners but popped to third. Hill then struck out Anthony Santander and Mountcastle to end his day.
Pham singled against Bradish (3-6) in the first, stole second, moved to third on an infield out by Alex Verdugo and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Xander Bogaerts. That was the last hit allowed by Bradish until a seventh-inning single by Rafael Devers.
Odor was angered when he was hit by a pitch by Strahm to start the seventh. A balk by Strahm moved him to second and Odor stole third but didn’t score as Santander struck out to end the inning.
Bradish allowed a run on two hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out three.
“We’re just really trying to fight right now to get some runs on the board four our pitching staff,” Hays said. “They’re doing a great job for us. Bradish had another really good start today. We just got guys on in a couple of different innings and just couldn’t get that big hit to get something rolling for us … We find way to get some guys on. We just need that one big hit to open the gates for us. We’re just not getting that right now.”
The Orioles have an offday before playing the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday.
“You can’t get three hits and expect to win,” Hyde said.
Notes: The Orioles recalled right-hander Mike Baumann for bullpen help and sent down right-hander Yennier Cano after Saturday’s game. Cano allowed seven runs on six hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings. … The Orioles claimed catcher Cam Gallagher off waivers from San Diego and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Gallagher, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hit .240 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs in six seasons with Kansas City. To make room for Gallagher on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated right-hander Rico Garcia for assignment. … The game’s start was delayed by one hour, 12 minutes. Total rain delays this season are 13 hours, 2 minutes. … After Monday’s offday, the Orioles play two games in Washington. Dean Kremer (6-5, 3.23) and Cory Abbott (0-2, 4.22) are scheduled to pitch on Tuesday night. Tyler Wells (7-6, 3.91) and Patrick Corbin (6-18, 6.30) are scheduled to pitch on Wednesday.
Bautista returns: Closer Félix Bautista, who wasn’t used in a save situation on Friday, warmed up twice but didn’t pitch on Sunday. Hyde said Bautista had arm fatigue.
“It was mostly just fatigue, but thankfully feeling a lot better today, Thank God,” Bautista said through team translator Brandon Quinones.
Bautista, who recorded a six-out save in Tuesday’s 9-6 win over the Blue Jays, said he hadn’t experienced the condition before.
“Not really, at least to this level,” he said. “Maybe it’s something due to my work load this year, the amount of innings I pitched. I think it has something to do with that.”
Hyde said he was going to watch the innings for Bautista, who has appeared in 60 games and pitched 61 innings, posting a 1.62 earned-run average, 12 saves and 80 strikeouts.
“I might not go two innings with him,” he said. “I feel like we’ve managed him pretty well. We’re going to need him.”
Bautista said he didn’t feel any issue until Tuesday’s game.
“It was something I mostly felt after my last outing,” he said. “My arm felt fatigued the next day. They gave me the four days of rest to recover and help me feel better.”
McKenna’s pitching debut: After Yennier Cano exhausted his pitch limit in Saturday’s embarrassing loss to the Red Sox, Hyde brought in Ryan McKenna from right field to pitch. He allowed two hits and a walk while recording the third out of the ninth.
“It was a bummer and disappointing the way it turned out, me being in that situation,” McKenna said. “It was different and something that I hadn’t done in a long time. It was cool to hear the fans cheer when I threw a strike. It was good that I got out of the inning relatively unscathed.”
The Orioles lost, 17-4.
“The situation called for it, and I was just trying to throw strikes, and obviously not do anything crazy,” McKenna said. “I went through a couple of warmup pitches. It was like playing catch.”
The ballpark’s pitch clock was turned off when McKenna pitched, but there were no 40 mph knuckleballs.
“I was just trying to play catch with Adley [Rutschman]. If I try to guide it or lob it in there, ir would have been less accurate,” McKenna said.
Rutschman always greets pitchers when they come off the mound at the end of an inning to offer encouragement, and his synopsis to McKenna was simple: “I think you didn’t give up an earned run,” McKenna said, laughing.
Minor league update: In his third rehab assignment, top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez allowed four runs on a hit and three walks in Double-A Bowie’s 9-6 loss to Richmond. Rodriguez worked 2 1/3 innings, threw 56 pitches and struck out seven.
Rightfielder Toby Welk drove in three runs.
Bruce Zimmermann allowed two runs on five hits in six innings as Triple-A Norfolk defeated Memphis, 9-2. Zimmermann (5-2) struck out three and walked two. Rightfielder Robert Neustrom drove in three runs and third baseman Cadyn Grenier drove in two.
Designated hitter Heston Kjerstad hit his third home run in High-A Aberdeen’s 11-3 loss to Jersey Shore. The IronBirds play at Brooklyn on Tuesday in Game 1 of their best-of-3 playoff series.
Delmarva’s game against Down East was canceled. The Shorebirds finish the season with a 49-81 record, worst in franchise history.