BALTIMORE -- There was nothing comforting about new Orioles pitcher Scott Feldman's first home start, as the 30-year-old righty -- acquired to help eat innings and stabilize an inconsistent rotation -- allowed 12 baserunners and seven earned runs over 5 1/3 innings.
And while the Orioles' high-powered offense has been a security blanket through the first three months, covering for short starts and helping take pressure off the bullpen to keep Baltimore in the thick of the American League East race, it's a luxury that appears to be fading. Baltimore went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position on Monday night, allowing Rangers starter Derek Holland to strand 10 men on base en route to an 8-5 series-opening loss to Texas.
The defeat, in front of 24,619 at Camden Yards, is the Orioles' fourth in their last five games and drops Baltimore (49-41) to third place in the AL East for just the second time since June 13.
"We've got to do a little better job pitching, and take advantage of the opportunities we get," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, whose club struck out 10 times. "You kind of put yourself in some positions you don't want to be in when you get starts shortened up like we did tonight. [Feldman] pitched four good innings, really five. Just the sixth inning got away from him. You give up six runs in one inning, you're not going to win many games."
Feldman, coming off a solid six-inning debut in Chicago, couldn't contain his former team with Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler driving in four runs, three of which came after Feldman had turned the ball over to lefty Troy Patton. The Rangers scoring started with Kinsler's two-out single in the third and Feldman surrendered a run in the fourth, but avoided further damage in leaving the bases loaded.
It all unraveled in the sixth as the Rangers batted around in a decisive six-run frame.
"Made some decent pitches, just seemed like everything they were hitting that inning kind of was like in a great spot," said Feldman, who exited after Elvis Andrus' RBI single gave the Rangers their second run of the inning. "Got to go back and look at the tape and see what kind of adjustments I need to make for next time."
Staked to a one-run lead, Feldman surrendered a one-out RBI double to A.J. Pierzynski to tie it at three, and after an intentional walk to Mitch Moreland, Andrus drove the first pitch into left field to put Texas up a run. Patton couldn't contain the damage, allowing an RBI single to Engel Beltre and Kinsler's bases-clearing double to run Feldman's tally up to seven earned runs.
"Getting strike one is big," said catcher Matt Wieters, "but when you get into a situation where you get guys on base, you know they're going to be aggressive, so you try to make that perfect pitch where you're going to be able to get a ground ball at somebody. And it was just missing a bit and getting behind. It's a tough lineup so you just can't throw one down the middle for the first pitch. You know they're going to be swinging."
The Orioles' swings largely came up short, with Holland striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings and keeping red-hot Chris Davis in check. Davis and Wieters -- who pulled the game within three with a two-run seventh-inning homer -- each struck out four times, marking the fourth game in franchise history in which two Orioles struck out four or more times.
"They have a strong team and Davis is doing unbelievable things," Holland said of the Orioles first baseman, who has a Major League-leading 33 home runs. "I wanted to do everything I could to slow him down and not give him anything good to hit."
The Orioles offense let Holland off the hook early, stranding five baserunners in the first three innings. Baltimore used first baseman Moreland's error to get on the board and set up a three-run fourth to temporarily take the lead. After J.J. Hardy's walk gave the O's their third consecutive leadoff runner, Nate McLouth doubled off the visiting scoreboard. Moreland fielded Brian Roberts' slow roller and threw the ball away, allowing both runners to score, and Manny Machado singled in a third run for his third hit of the night.
That was all the offense the Orioles could muster up until Wieters' one-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning. Wieters' blast also scored Adam Jones, who hustled down the first-base line to reach on a strikeout and passed ball, and Hardy followed with a single. McLouth worked a walk to keep the O's threatening and chase Holland from the game, but former Orioles pitcher Ross Wolf retired pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty on a first-pitch groundout to keep the score there.
"The game turned on a big inning, the sixth inning, and we were unable to come back from it," Jones said. "You have to give Holland credit -- he got into some jams and was able to get out of them, especially the first three innings. We let him off the hook, but that's why he gets paid the big bucks."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.