It took only four pitches on Thursday for Cole Irvin and the Orioles to find themselves in a deficit.

One, a sinker to Michael Harris II, resulted in a single.

The second, a changeup that Ozzie Albies hit for a double.

Then came a slider that Marcell Ozuna fouled off. But a fourth pitch, a cutter, Ozuna smacked for another double to send in two runs.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

That put the Braves ahead to stay. Although Irvin put up a season-high eight strikeouts, he was charged with three earned as the Orioles fell to Atlanta 6-3 Thursday afternoon. Baltimore still took the series and has won 16 of its last 21.

“Sometimes you are going to make good pitches and they are going to hit it,” Irvin said. “They get paid to. That’s a sleeping ballclub right now. They are very good. They are able to put some damage up. I’m just thankful to keep it in the ballpark today and limit damage.”

After the Braves came out swinging, Irvin had to adjust to focus more on getting strikeouts, which is not his typical game plan.

“A couple good things to take away, a couple bad things to take away,” Irvin said. “We are just trying to get as consistent as possible throughout the whole season.”

The Orioles put up just two hits in six innings against Braves starter Reynaldo López, who has the lowest ERA in baseball.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Baltimore found some footing in the seventh, with Jordan Westburg doubling and Cedric Mullins walking. Kyle Stowers then hit a three-run homer, his first major league home run since Sept. 22, 2022. The Orioles attempted to rally in the bottom of the ninth, putting two runners on with one out, but Harris made a diving catch in center for the second out and pinch-hitting Ryan Mountcastle grounded out to end the game.

They have just over 24 hours to prepare for their next game, and there is no relief in the upcoming schedule. Starting Friday, the Orioles will play back-to-back series against the Phillies at home and the Yankees on the road, facing the two best teams in MLB. The Orioles, with the third-best record, will get a midseason test to see how they compare to other World Series contenders.

“We have high belief in ourself in this clubhouse,” Stowers said. “We feel like we can compete with anyone. We play hard, we pull for each other, and you combine those things with all the talent in here and we stack up well against the rest of the league.”

Against the Phillies, in a sold-out series, the Orioles will send out their top three starters — Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and Corbin Burnes — against the Phillies’ Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker and Zack Wheeler. That sets up a Father’s Day showdown between Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Winner, and Wheeler, who finished second that year.

From there, the Orioles have options. With a much-anticipated day off Monday, their only one this month, they could skip a pitcher and give Bradish and Rodriguez each a start against the Yankees. After that series, the Orioles have only six more games against the Yankees, and every win is going to matter in this tight American League East race.

“We’re focused on one pitch at a time,” Irvin said. “We’re focused on night in, night out. It doesn’t matter the opponent; it’s Major League Baseball. Everyone is bringing their best every night.”