Dave Trembley, the Orioles manager, was diplomatic and took the high road.

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Dave Trembley was diplomatic and took the high road. Jeremy Guthrie, the Baltimore starting pitcher from Ashland High, was more direct and critical of himself — perhaps too critical.

Trembley was asked after Friday night's 3-1 loss at home to the Boston Red Sox if this has been a disappointing season for Guthrie, who fell to 10-15 while allowing three earned runs in 52/3 innings to the power-hitting Red Sox here before 26,812 fans at Camden Yards in the opener of a three-game series.

"For probably half of the season the home run ball had a direct impact on his success or failure," Trembley said. "He competes. He battles. He is reliable. He doesn't miss starts. You would like to win more games. That is what you are trying to do."

Guthrie, 30, gave up his league-high 31st home run of the season to Boston's Jason Bay, who hit a solo shot in the fourth before leaving the game with flu-like symptoms. The Roseburg native, who had allowed just one homer in the previous four games, left in the sixth inning after giving up a run-scoring hit by former Oregon State standout Jacoby Ellsbury that accounted for the final score. Casey Kotchman drove in the other Red Sox run in the second.

Has this been a disappointing season for Guthrie, the opening day starter for the Birds?

"Absolutely. I have pitched terribly. Have I worked hard? Yes," said Guthrie, standing by his locker after allowing nine hits and three walks. "I was behind all night. It lead to a lot of pitches. Fastball command was terrible for me."

The competitive Guthrie may have been hard on himself. After all has now gone six straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs. He did not get much support Friday from the Orioles, who were without injured regulars such as center fielder and former Seattle Mariner Adam Jones and left fielder Nolan Reimold, a rookie of the year candidate.

Luke Scott's solo home run, his 23rd of the season, was the only run off Boston starter Clay Buchholz (6-3), who has not lost in his last seven starts as the Red Sox kept a healthy lead in the American League wildcard race.

"You have to tip your cap to him," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said of Buchholz.

Guthrie threw 61 pitches in the first three innings and 114 overall, 70 for strikes.

"Pitching gave us a chance and kept us in the game. We got some good situational pitching," Trembley said. "Buchholz won the pitch count war early. Guthrie's pitch count got up real early. He had to battle and he did. Our pitching gave us a chance."

Guthrie, slated to make three more starts this season, is now 0-3 this season against the Red Sox and 1-4 against the Yankees, with the only win against the two powers coming here on opening day against New York. Boston is 14-2 against the Orioles this season and has won 10 straight series against the Birds.

"I don't feel like I've played them more competitively. I feel like they've absolutely had my number," Guthrie said. "I think they've had our team's number for three years. I can't think of a time where we've gone in there and really played well against them."

Despite those staggering numbers for the Orioles (60-87), who are guaranteed a 12th straight losing season, Trembley feels the team is more competitive than in the past against the Red Sox.

"I would think that is a given," Trembley said. "There have been a lot of competitive games. We have lost a lot of close games. Our guys are battling their butts off. We have to cash in on the few scoring opportunities that we do get."

"You can't make excuses. You have to go out there every night," Roberts said.

For what it is worth Guthrie would have a winning record if you took away his record against the Red Sox (now 86-59) and the Yankees.

"He wants to finish strong," Trembley said of Guthrie. At the very least Friday was his last outing this year against the Red Sox or Yankees.

Notes: Prior to Friday, Guthrie was 0-2 with ERA of 8.00 against the Red Sox this season and the Orioles lost all four starts this year ...In his last start against the Red Sox, at home July 31, he allowed six earned runs in 62/3 innings ... Guthrie leads the team in starts, win and innings pitched ... Jonathan Palelbon pitched a hitless ninth for his 37th save .... Oriole Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson presented third base to Melvin Mora of the Orioles before the game. Mora is now second in club history for games played at third, back of Robinson, whose last minor league stop came in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1959. He was in the majors to stay in 1960.

David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland and can be reached through his website at www.davidsdriver.com