During his first season and a half at the big league level, Miguel Gonzalez established himself as one of the Orioles' most consistent, trustworthy starters.
That's exactly what has made his past two outings so baffling. The Baltimore righty didn't make it out of the fifth inning in either start, allowing a total of 15 runs (10 earned) in 8 1/3 frames. He picked up back-to-back losses for the first time in his young career.
Gonzalez (8-5, 3.88 ERA) gets the ball Wednesday afternoon for the final game of a quick two-game series against the Padres, looking to reestablish himself as the reliable starter the Orioles have come to know.
"Everything's been flat," Gonzalez said after his most recent start. " ...You just can't pitch that way."
Opposite Gonzalez will be Padres left-hander Eric Stults (8-10, 3.55 ERA), who is in the midst of some uncharacteristic struggles, as well.
The crafty southpaw has dropped his last three starts, during which he allowed a total of 29 hits. Still, Stults has been the Padres' most reliable starter this season, and the Friars have won eight of his last nine home starts, dating back to April 27.
Stults will have to contend with Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, coming off his first four-hit game of the season. The Orioles took the series opener, 4-1, on Tuesday night on the strength of a Jones homer and two RBIs.
Orioles: Roberts returns
Second baseman Brian Roberts returned to the Orioles' lineup on Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game back from paternity leave. His wife, Diana, gave birth to the couple's first child, a son named Jax, on Friday.
"I'm really thankful to have been there and support my wife, as much as she's been there for me the past couple of years," Roberts said. "To be able to be beside her and support her, it was great."
The club optioned third baseman Danny Valencia to Triple-A Norfolk to clear space for Roberts, who is hitting .238 in 31 games this season.
Padres: Cabrera apologizes
San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, who was suspended 50 games on Monday for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, apologized to his Padres teammates before Tuesday's game against the Orioles.
"This hurts our team, obviously, so in that respect there may be some of those feelings," third baseman Chase Headley said. "But, there's also a feeling of I've been around this guy for four or five years, and you can see the emotion that's coming out of him."
• There won't be many familiar matchups Wednesday afternoon. Gonzalez has yet to face any hitters on the Padres' roster in his career, and Stults has faced only one Orioles batter -- Nate McLouth, who is 0-for-2 against him.
• With his 0-for-5 night on Tuesday, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis dropped to second all-time in Interleague Play batting average (minimum 300 at-bats). His .344 average against the opposite league trails only Larry Walker's lifetime .346 mark.
• Headley has returned to form a bit recently, posting a .306 average since July 5.