BALTIMORE -- There are times throughout a baseball season when a starting pitcher simply doesn't have anything.
It took four pitches in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays to recognize it might be that kind of afternoon for Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
He served up a homer to the first batter he faced, Desmond Jennings, then surrendered a pair of two-run shots in the second and fourth.
Chen (7-3) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, the shortest stint of his big-league career, while permitting five runs, which matched a season high. The three home runs allowed tied Chen's career high, while the loss ended his streak of nine consecutive starts without a defeat; he was 4-0 with five no-decisions since losing at Minnesota on May 3.
By the time he mercifully left the mound in front of an announced 36,387 in the fourth inning at Camden Yards, Chen and the Orioles were down 5-0.
He set the pace, and the Orioles' enigmatic offense shuffled along weakly until finally mounting a comeback. The offense didn't really challenge former Orioles lefty Erik Bedard until the eighth, when third baseman Manny Machado hit a two-run homer, his sixth of the year and second in two days, to make it interesting.
The Orioles (42-38) managed just five hits against Bedard and limped away with their second loss in three games at home against the team with baseball's worst record.
As usual, though, the Orioles at least kept the drama unfolding until late in the game.
Machado's eighth-inning homer was followed by consecutive one-out singles by pinch hitter Delmon Young and Nick Markakis and then a two-out RBI hit by Adam Jones to get the Orioles within one run. But Nelson Cruz flied out to center against closer Jake McGee with runners on the corners to end the inning.
McGee then picked up his third save of the season with a perfect ninth, ending a game in which eight of the nine runs scored via home runs.
The Rays (34-49) had homered just twice in their past nine games; they did it three times in four innings versus Chen. Five of the 15 homers against Chen this year have been hit by the supposedly punchless Rays.
After Jennings led off a game with a long ball for the seventh time in his career, Logan Forsythe smacked his first homer as a Ray in the second inning on a changeup.
In the fourth, ninth-place hitter Kevin Kiermaier also crushed a changeup -- this one to right field -- to put the contest out of reach.
After Chen walked the next batter, Jennings, his day was over. He allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks while throwing 82 pitches (52 strikes) in the abbreviated outing.
While Chen was reeling from his worst start of the year, Bedard (4-5) was turning in one of his best.
The 35-year-old -- who spent five seasons with the Orioles before he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2008 for five players, including Adam Jones and Chris Tillman -- lasted seven innings for the first time this season.
Heading into the eighth, he had allowed just three hits, including a solo homer by former teammate Markakis in the sixth. It was Markakis' seventh home run of the season.
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