For the third game in a row, York Revolution manager Mark Mason walked to the mound earlier than he would have preferred on Thursday.
His starter, Rick Zagone, lasted just 42/3 innings a day after his previous starter went only three innings. His starter the day before that lasted just two innings.
But unlike the previous two losses, York's 4-2 defeat to Southern Maryland (31-28) in front of 3,916 fans wasn't because of the pitching.
The Revs' offense managed just six hits and left five runners stranded on base, including a bases-loaded situation in the fourth inning with one out, when they failed to score a run.
York (31-28) has now lost a season-high four-straight games and five of its last six. Mason used some strong language in a post-game rant about his team's performance in a three-game series sweep by the Blue Crabs.
"You go through them (losing streaks) but when you have games you're supposed to win, when you got the game right there to win, you got to win the game," Mason said. "That's the bottom line. That's something we gotta figure out."
If he doesn't see improvement, Mason hinted he wasn't afraid to make roster moves, if needed.
"I give guys an opportunity to make us better. If they don't, then I gotta find someone else who can make us better," he said. "That's just the nature of the beast. They know that. It's not like there's not any players out there. I got 17 pages of guys that are out there ready to play. So we are doing our best to try to make us better."
It's come to the point where Mason plans to have a chat with his team Friday before the series opener against visiting Somerset, which will enter at 38-20. Mason last did that in the third week of May after the Revs lost three straight heading into a series at Camden.
"I think you'll see more energy tomorrow night, I'll tell you that," Mason said. "I don't know what it is. Guys feel sorry for themselves. It's all 'woe is me, I should hit that ball better.' But they have to understand you have to go out and hustle on defense."
York dropped to 12-22 in games decided by two runs or less this season. The Revs are still 10 games back of Sugar Land (41-18) for the first-half Freedom Division race with 11 games to play in the first half. Southern Maryland moved to 61/2 games up on Long Island in the first-half Liberty Division race.
Blue Crabs' starter Michael Ballard (4-3) got the win, holding the Revs to two runs on six hits in 71/3 innings, striking out eight and walking none. Closer Jim Ed Warden picked up his 16th save of the year.
Zagone (1-1) took his first loss in a Revs' uniform. Entering the night having given up just two runs in three starts for York this year, Zagone allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, two of them homers. York relievers Joe Torres, Nick Green and Rommie Lewis combined for 41/3 scoreless innings.
Green, who came off the inactive list Thursday, is expected to start for York on Sunday. The Revs placed reliever Kris Regas on the inactive list.
Next game: York will host Somerset in a series opener Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. York right-hander Brett Tomko (2-5, 5.34 ERA) will go against righty Josh Lowey (6-3, 4.02).
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.