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Orioles-Indians Preview

AP - Sports

The Baltimore Orioles have had their problems establishing a consistent starting rotation, and they're hoping rookie Miguel Gonzalez can help out as they open a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Gonzalez (1-1, 2.59 ERA) started the season as a relief pitcher, and after three solid appearances was called upon to fill a spot in the injury-ridden rotation.

Baltimore (48-44) has had nine pitchers start games this season.

"You can't panic," slugger Jim Thome told the team's official website. "You root for each other, you're there. That's really about it. You prepare every day. You have a positive attitude and believe in the fact that they are doing everything they can from an organizational end to put the best out there."

Gonzalez has pitched well in his two starts, posting a 2.84 ERA. He beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on July 6 with seven innings of one-run ball before allowing three runs over 5 2-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

Baltimore will be looking for the right-hander to repeat his performance from his only appearance against the Indians, when he allowed one run and struck out five over 4 1-3 innings July 1.

He will be facing an Indians club that collected two hits in a 6-0 road loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Cleveland (47-45) split the four-game series against the Rays and will hand the ball to Derek Lowe on Friday.

Lowe (8-7, 4.43) has been dominant at home, going 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA in eight starts compared to 3-6 with a 5.81 ERA in 10 outings away from Progressive Field.

His last start was in Toronto on Sunday, when he went six innings and allowed three runs in a 3-0 loss.

Lowe is 8-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 35 appearances - 17 starts - against the Orioles. The right-hander didn't receive a decision after allowing seven runs - four earned - over 5 1-3 innings of a 9-8 loss in Baltimore on June 29.

The Indians won the other three games in that series and have taken nine of the last 12 meetings, winning four in a row at home.

A Cleveland bullpen that has been fairly consistent all season will most likely have a big impact in this series, especially in the first game. Lowe has not completed seven innings in 10 starts since pitching a six-hitter in a 5-0 win at Minnesota on May 15th.

"We need at least five guys back there, like we've done the last couple of years, that we can trust and that can keep us close when we're tied or trailing, in order for our bullpen to be successful longterm," manager Manny Acta told the team's official website.

The Orioles are coming off consecutive wins over the Twins following a 1-6 stretch. Mark Reynolds' two-run single in the eighth inning Thursday gave Baltimore a 4-3 win and a split of the four-game set.

Reynolds is 6 for 18 with six RBIs over his last five games after going 10 for 66 (.152) and driving in seven runs in his previous 22 contests.

He is 8 for 24 with a homer, two doubles and a triple against Lowe.

The Indians called up Cody Allen before the game, and the highly touted right-hander could make his major league debut. The 23rd-round draft pick from 2011 has posted a 1.74 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 98 innings in two years as a pro.

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