Faltering Orioles lose second straight to Rays, 7-4

Faltering Orioles lose second straight to Rays, 7-4
August 20, 2013, 11:30 pm
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Davis, Os know the next week is crucial to WC chase

BALTIMORE – After nearly four hours and 15 runners left on base Monday night, the Orioles were hoping the next one would be different—and better.

It was different, but in the end no better.

Alex Cobb limited the Orioles to three hits in six-plus innings as the Tampa Bay Rays won for the second straight night 7-4 before 26,158 at Oriole Park.

The Orioles (67-58) are 5 ½ games behind second place Tampa Bay (72-52) and just a game ahead of the fourth place New York Yankees.

They’re faced with the reality that with 37 games left, a hot streak is a necessity.

“We look at it like we've won two out of four and tomorrow's the start of something good. You'd be surprised how quickly this season can slow down and things can turn quickly so you've got to be prepared to take advantage of that, and we have the people to do it. At some point, some of the frustration they feel will start getting played out on the field toward the opposition,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The last four Orioles games have extremely long, averaging three hours, thirty-three minutes.

Cobb was excellent, and Showalter knows that the Rays, who have taken nine of the 14 games played between the clubs.

“Tampa Bay is good. They pitch real well, and that really gives their team a chance to really play the game offensively the way they want to because there aren't many big innings there,” Showalter said.

Miguel Gonzalez, who had consistently gotten deeper in games than any other Orioles starter for weeks, couldn’t complete six.

Matt Joyce walked to lead off the second. After Gonzalez (8-6) struck out Wil Myers and James Loney, Gonzalez threw wildly to first, and Joyce advanced to second. Yunel Escobar’s pop to short center was just past Ryan Flaherty’s outstretched glove for a base hit, scoring Joyce.

With two outs in the second, Matt Wieters reached on an error by Evan Longoria, who was playing a deep second base in the Rays’ shift. J.J. Hardy walked. Flaherty singled to right to score Wieters.

Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in the third. With one out, Desmond Jennings walked and easily scored on Ben Zobrist’s double. Longoria singled and Zobrist scored on Joyce’s sacrifice fly to right.

Gonzalez labored into the sixth inning and was replaced by T.J. McFarland.

He allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out four.

“That was a tough one,” Gonzalez said. “First inning was great and then I just had to battle the other innings. It’s tough to pitch against a team that is playing good. They got three infield hits and a couple broken bat base hits. That’s a tough one to swallow.”

The Orioles didn’t have a hit off Cobb (8-2) after Flaherty’s single until Hardy had one after Wieters walked to start the seventh. Flaherty walked to load the bases, and Cobb’s night was done.

Against Alex Torres, Brian Roberts hit into a 5-4 double play with Wieters scoring, and after Nate McLouth struck out, the Orioles trailed by one.

“It’s not the position we would prefer to find ourselves in after the first two games of the series, that’s for sure, but there’s still plenty of baseball left for us to make up some ground. It’s not ideal at all, but we won’t let this game affect tomorrow’s game,” McLouth said.

Chris Davis singled with one out against Jamey Wright in the eighth. Adam Jones hit into an inning-ending double play, the Orioles third.

Tampa Bay broke the game open in the ninth on a two-run double by Joyce off McFarland and a two-run single by Myers against Jim Johnson.

Johnson allowed three hits and got out of the ninth when Jose Molina bounced into a double play, the third turned by the Orioles.

Wieters hit a two-run home run off Wesley Wright, his 19th, to cut the lead to 7-4 in the ninth.

Hardy followed with a walk, and Fernando Rodney came in to the retire his first three batters and earn his 29th save.

The Orioles will try to take one against the Rays on Wednesday. McLouth, who is 0-for-17, knows the games are increasingly important.

“They definitely are, but I think if you look at it like that, it kind of puts more pressure on you even though they are extremely important games. If you come out tomorrow and say we’ve got to win tonight’s game to make up for last night’s game, I don’t think that’s the right way to look at it either,” McLouth said.

NOTES: Wei-Yin Chen (6-6, 3.23) faces Jeremy Hellickson (10-6, 4.91) on Wednesday. The first 10,000 fans 15 and over receive a team license plate frame.