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Fife comes through as emergency starter as Dodgers top Orioles

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Stephen Fife was in Omaha when learned that he was needed to make an emergency start for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the series finale Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

After he flew into Baltimore on Saturday, the butterflies arrived shortly afterward in his hotel room. Fife recovered from a shaky opening, Mark Ellis had three RBIs and the Dodgers avoided being swept with a 7-4 victory over the Orioles on Sunday before an announced crowd of 41,265 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"It's nice to get the first inning out of the way," Fife said. "I was probably a little less aggressive than I needed to be. I was just trying to pitch down in the zone and get guys to hit ground balls."

Los Angeles also snapped six-game losing streak, its longest since a seven-game skid last June. Despite the loss, the Orioles are 4-2 on the current nine-game homestand.

The Dodgers were forced to recall Fife from Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday after Chad Billingsley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow pain. In his 2013 major league debut, Fife allowed four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk over 4 2/3 innings.

J.P. Howell picked up his first win of the season for the Dodgers with a scoreless fifth.

Meanwhile, Orioles' starter Jake Arrieta retired the first six batters he faced, but then struggled with his command. Arrieta allowed five runs on just two hits with six strikeouts and five walks over four innings. He also hit two batters. He also took the loss and is 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA.

"I really feel like the Dodgers didn't beat us today," Arrieta said. "I beat us. It's unacceptable. It's bad."

In his four starts this season, Arrieta has allowed 14 runs on 15 hits with 20 strikeouts and 16 walks over 19 innings.

Chris Davis led the Orioles by going 3-for-4, while Adam Jones went 2-for-3 and got his third home run of the season.

Trailing 4-1 in the fifth, the Dodgers cut the margin to 4-3 on a double by Adrian Gonzalez that ended Arrieta's afternoon. Lefty T.J. McFarland entered for Baltimore, and he immediately surrendered the lead on a two-run single by Matt Kemp.

"We got a couple of big hits," said Kemp, who had six hits in the series. "We worked their bullpen. Everybody did a good job today. We started out down a couple of runs but we continued to grind.

The Dodgers added insurance runs on an RBI single by A.J. Ellis in the seventh and a sacrifice fly by Jerry Hairston in the ninth.

"We've played 27 innings in about 27 hours," Orioles' manager Buck Showalter said. "We had good energy level about the game today, we just walked too many people. When you play that many innings in that short of time you use your pitching staff with the exception of two starters, it taxes you."

The Orioles jumped on Fife early as Nate McLouth led off the first with a single, took second on a wild pitch and then scored on a Nick Markakis' single. Fife then loaded the bases and allowed a two-run single to J.J. Hardy.

Fife threw 35 of his 80 pitches in the opening inning. He then appeared to gain more confidence as the game progressed, allowing his team to cut into the lead. Fife made five starts for the Dodgers in 2012 and went 0-2 with 2.70 ERA over 26 2/3 innings.

"He does a nice job of competing today and keeping us in the game," Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly said. "You don't know what to expect the first time. The guy flies in yesterday and then all of the sudden he's pitching. Honesty, I expected him to pitch well. I thought he made nice adjustments using his breaking ball. He competed."

Fife could be a major factor this season for the Dodgers, who are facing a potential crisis with their starting rotation. Billingsley became the third Dodgers pitcher to land on the disabled list just in the past nine days, joining Zack Greinke (broken collarbone) and Chris Capuano (strained calf).

There is reason for concern because Billingsley was shut down for the final month of last season with a partial torn ligament in his right elbow. He is expected to have more tests Tuesday in Los Angeles to determine the extent of the latest injury.

Arrieta first ran into trouble in the third when he loaded the bases. He escaped with minimal damage as the only run he allowed was a sacrifice fly by Ellis.

Jones, however, increased the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a homer to left field. The Dodgers loaded the bases again in the fourth, and this time they did not squander the opportunity by getting the go-ahead run.

NOTES: The Orioles have caught a major league-best 66.7 percent (8-for-12) of attempted base stealers so far this season. ... With a first inning single, Markakis has now gotten a hit in 15 of 18 games. ... Orioles Hall-of-Fame third baseman Cal Ripken was at the game as part of the broadcast team with TBS. ... Skip Schumaker, who was serving as the Dodgers DH, snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a third-inning single. ...The Dodgers signed three players from the Domican Republic: right-handed pitcher Osiris Ramirez, right-handed pitcher Angel German and third baseman Jimy Perez.
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