Baseball / Sports

Orioles begin road trip with 5-4 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles haven't taken advantage of their suddenly sparkling starting pitching over the past two weeks.

They rallied back from a three-run deficit to tie the game in the eighth Monday night before left-hander Brian Matusz allowed a game-winning two-run homer to Jerry Sands in the bottom of the inning as the Orioles suffered a 5-4 loss -- their third defeat in the past four games -- in front of an announced 10,576 at Tropicana Field.

That wasted a fine effort from left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who recorded the Orioles' eighth straight quality start, holding the Rays to three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

The starting rotation has recorded quality starts in 10 of the team's last 11 games, but the Orioles (35-34) have won just five times in that span. In those 11 games, the Orioles are hitting .217 with runners in scoring position (15-for-69).

"I don't live in that world," Showalter said about the Orioles' struggles to capitalize on good performances from their starting pitchers. "It is what it is. You can go back and find some really good things you did. You can dwell on the negativity. You can't in the locker room. I know there's a certain reality to some of it. We pitched well, and I think if we continue to pitch well, it will work certainly to our favor."

Chen tallied his third straight quality start, and he has allowed just five earned runs in 20 innings over that span (2.25 ERA).

Take away one bad pitch -- a 3-2, two-out pitch in the fourth that Ryan Hanigan took into the left-field stands for a two-run homer -- and Chen shut down a struggling Tampa Bay offense that has scored more than three runs in four of its last eight games.

"In the first few innings, there was something that I could have controlled, but I didn't do it well, so the opposing hitters hit a lot of foul balls and drove my pitch count up," Chen said through his interpreter, Louis Chao. "And I also allowed two home runs and those home runs led to the three runs allowed, so those are mistakes that I made. So, I have to take responsibility of those pitches."

But the game came down to Matusz allowing the go-ahead home run on a 2-0 pitch that Sands blasted down the left-field line inside the foul pole and onto the concourse below.

Showalter brought in Matusz to face left-hander David DeJesus, but Rays manager Joe Maddon countered by pinch-hitting Sands, the right-handed hitter who hit his first career pinch-hit homer.

"Brian has gotten some big outs for us here, just as Darren (O'Day) has and (Ryan) Webb has, and some other people down there," Showalter said. "Tommy (Hunter) is going to. It didn't happen tonight. Usually you like to have some pitches you'd like to take back, but you can't. But nobody talks about all the good pitches you made to get to that point."

O'Day (2-1), who allowed a leadoff walk to Evan Longoria in the eighth, was charged with the loss. Longoria scored on Sands' home run.

Pinch-hitter Delmon Young hit a solo homer off Rays right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo on a 3-2 pitch, but Oviedo retired the next two batters to earn the save for the Rays (28-43).

Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi allowed just one hit in his first five innings, and he allowed just two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings overall with both runs coming on Adam Jones' 12th homer of the season.

Jones homered in back-to-back games with a two-run shot deep into the left-field stands in the sixth inning to get the Orioles back in the game. It was the first time this season that Jones has homered in back-to-back games. He did it five times last season.

The Orioles tied the game in the eighth inning on Nelson Cruz's high-chopper infield single off left-handed reliever Jake McGee.

Displaced Rays closer Grant Balfour opened the inning by allowing back-to-back singles to Nick Markakis and Manny Machado. Two batters later, McGee was brought in to face left-handed-hitting Chris Davis, but McGee walked him on five pitches to load the bases.

Cruz then hit a ball that one-hopped high into the air to Longoria, who didn't have a play at either first or second bases, allowing the tying run to score.

McGee (3-0) struck out J.J. Hardy and pinch-hitter Steve Pearce grounded into a force out at second, but not before he ripped a ball down the left-field line that landed just foul.

Jones' homer, which came on a 2-1 pitch from Odorizzi, followed Markakis' leadoff double on a ball that hit the top of the left-field wall.

The Orioles had the tying run at second with one out in the seventh inning, but Rays right-hander Joel Peralta battled from behind in the count to strike out Ryan Flaherty and Caleb Joseph to end the threat.

Hardy opened the inning with a single off Peralta and moved to second on David Lough's sacrifice bunt. But Peralta struck out Flaherty after falling behind 2-1 and whiffed Joseph after starting him 2-0.

Hanigan's homer was his first in nearly two months. He last hit a home run April 19, when he had two against the New York Yankees' Ivan Nova.

Markakis' two hits gave him sole possession of sixth place on the Orioles all-time hit list with 1,456, passing Ken Singleton.

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