Last-place Orioles fire Perlozzo before road trip

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BALTIMORE — Since Davey Johnson guided the Orioles to a first-place finish in 1997, no manager has led the Baltimore Orioles to a winning season.

Sam Perlozzo became the latest one to fail yesterday when he was fired by the Orioles, the result of his inability to bring last-place Baltimore out of a lengthy funk that included an eight-game losing streak.

“We felt Sam was prepared. We felt the club was prepared to do battle every night,” executive vice president Mike Flanagan said in a press conference. “For whatever reason, it just wasn’t working.”

Bullpen coach Dave Trembley will be the interim manager when the Orioles begin a six-game trip in San Diego today. One of the leading candidates to fill the position on a full-time basis is Joe Girardi, voted NL manager of the year in 2006 with the Florida Marlins after he was fired in a dispute with ownership.

On another front, the Orioles are negotiating with former Chicago Cubs president Andy MacPhail about becoming chief operating officer, a job left vacant since Joe Foss resigned earlier this year.

After Johnson was fired after the 1997 season, Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli and Perlozzo all compiled losing records, and unless the Orioles pull off a surprising turnaround, the team’s franchise-record run of losing seasons will reach 10 at the end of this year.

This was supposed to be the year Baltimore finally competed in the AL East. The team spent $42 million to overhaul the bullpen, signed free agent hitters Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton and added Jaret Wright and Steve Trachsel to the rotation.

The additions haven’t provided the desired results.

Danys Baez, who signed a three-year, $19 million contract, lost his job as setup man and was 0-4 with a 6.52 ERA before going on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. Orioles relievers were 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA during their latest homestand.

Huff and Payton have been adequate, but the offense is batting .260 with a mere 50 homers in 69 games.

Wright was removed from the rotation in April with shoulder stiffness and could be lost for the year, and left-hander Adam Loewen had season-ending elbow surgery last week.

For two months, the Orioles performed beyond expectations. Baltimore was 27-27 and in second place May 31 before losing 13 of 15 in June, including the last eight games of a 1-8 homestand that ended Sunday.

Baltimore’s 29-40 record is the fifth worst in the major leagues. The Orioles started yesterday trailing first-place Boston by 15½ games in the AL East.

“We’ve changed a lot of things in the last three or four years to head in the right direction,” Flanagan said. “And we still feel that way about the organization in spite of what happened today. We believe that everything else in place is working well.”

The blame for the Orioles‘ losing record fell on Perlozzo, the first major league manager to be fired this season.

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