BALTIMORE (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays usually work their way around the bases one at a time, so they took great delight in putting on a power-hitting display against a team known for the long ball.
Desmond Jennings opened the game with the first of Tampa Bay’s three home runs off Wei-Yin Chen, and the Rays got an impressive pitching performance from former Oriole Erik Bedard in a 5-4 victory over Baltimore on Saturday.
Tampa Bay built a five-run lead in the fourth inning, then held off a late comeback bid to improve to 3-8 against the Orioles this season.
Logan Forsythe and rookie Kevin Kiermaier each hit a two-run shot against Chen (7-3), who lasted only 3 1-3 innings in the shortest outing of his three-year career. Of the 15 home runs Chen has yielded this season, five have come against the light-hitting Rays.
Tampa Bay started the day tied for 25th in the majors with 59 home runs and hit only two its previous nine games. Half the Rays’ 10 hits were for extra bases, including a triple by Ben Zobrist and a double by Ryan Hanigan.
”That’s more like what we expect on a consistent basis, to play that game,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”Against this team here, fangs out late in the game, it’s nice to beat them that way.”
Nick Markakis and Manny Machado homered for the Orioles, who have a major league-leading 40 long balls in June. But it wasn’t enough to beat the last-place Rays, who can win the four-game series with a victory Sunday.
Bedard (4-5) struck out seven in a season-high seven-plus innings. The 35-year-old lefty gave up three runs and five hits against the team he began his career with in 2002.
He walked none, and 68 of his 87 pitches were strikes.
”That’s probably the best strike-ball ratio I’ve ever thrown in my life,” Bedard said. ”The biggest thing was the first-pitch strikes and after that, I continued to throw strikes. I mixed in fastball, change-up, curveball and I came out on top.”
He was pulled after giving up a two-run homer to Machado in the eighth.
Adam Jones added an RBI single off Jake McGee, who subsequently retired Nelson Cruz with two outs and runners on the corners. McGee returned in the ninth to earn his third save — the second in two days.
Chen gave up a season-high five runs, seven hits and a pair of walks. The Taiwanese left-hander was 4-0 in nine starts since May 3 and 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two games against Tampa Bay.
”For every game, you don’t want to give up any home runs,” Chen said through a translator. ”Lately, I’ve been leaving more pitches up in the zone. Maybe the opponent hitters are studying me more than they used to, so if I didn’t make the adjustment necessary, the results are going to look bad. So I’m going to look at that.”
On Chen’s fourth pitch, a 91 mph fastball, Jennings hit his seventh career leadoff homer to put the Rays ahead for good. Prior to the at-bat, Jennings was 4 for 23 (.174) against Chen.
In the second, Sean Rodriguez singled and Forsythe followed with his first home run in 142 at-bats this season. Forsythe went 3 for 3 with a walk and scored twice.
Tampa Bay made it 5-0 in the fourth when Forsythe singled and Kiermaier drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers. It was the fifth home run of the season for Kiermaier and the first by a left-hander against Chen.
”I actually like the way we’ve been swinging the bats,” Kiermaier said. ”It was one of those things today — Desmond hit the leadoff home run then Logan came up clutch and hit that other one.”
Bedard retired 10 straight batters before Markakis homered on a 1-2 pitch in the sixth.
NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez will start for Baltimore in the series finale against RHP Alex Cobb, who has held the Orioles to a .176 batting average throughout his career. … Tampa Bay SS Yunel Escobar missed his fourth straight game with a sore shoulder. … Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy, returning from elbow surgery, will make his fourth rehab start Thursday, this time with Class-A Frederick. … Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson, trying to come back from elbow surgery, ended his rehab start with Triple-A Durham on Friday night after three innings, complaining of discomfort. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon suggested Hellickson might return to Florida for an examination.