Orioles 4, Rays 2

Like it or not, the Baltimore Orioles have been thrust into the
spoiler’s role during the final weeks of the season.

The Orioles don’t necessarily relish the idea of ruining a
team’s pursuit of a playoff berth, but they’re not at all fond of
losing.

So, after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday night, the
Orioles celebrated a victory rather than savor their role in the AL
wild-card race.

”We’re very respectful of what the Rays have done to get to the
point where these games matter,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter
said. ”We’re more concerned with doing some things that allow us
to be able to do that in the future. … I don’t think (we want) to
make somebody feel our pain, so to speak.”

Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to break a
tie and end Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak. The loss dropped
the Rays four games behind Boston in the wild-card hunt.

”We’re playing some teams at the end of the year that are
playing for important parts in the playoffs,” Wieters said. ”So
they’re going to bring their A game, and anytime you can go out
there and get a win, it’s going to help your confidence going into
next year.”

Clearly, the Orioles aren’t fond of the spoiler’s role.

”We’re just trying to play as well as we can against teams that
are going to the playoffs,” Wieters said. ”They can fight it out
and go for the playoffs. We’re just going to try and get better and
keep working.”

With the score 2-all, Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell (2-3)
retired the first two batters in the eighth before Vladimir
Guerrero singled. Adam Jones entered as a pinch runner and Howell
threw over to first base five times – including three in a row –
before serving up a 1-1 pitch that Wieters drove into the
left-field seats.

”A stupid pitch,” Howell said. ”You get sick. Nothing goes
through your mind. You go blank. It’s disgusting.”

Troy Patton (1-1) retired all three batters he faced before Jim
Johnson got the final out for his fifth save. It was Patton’s first
major league win.

Both starters pitched brilliantly but did not receive a
decision.

Tampa Bay’s David Price allowed two runs, one earned, and four
hits in 6 2-3 innings. He is 0-2 against the Orioles, the only team
to beat him twice this year.

Alfredo Simon was just as good. The right-hander gave up two
runs and six hits over seven innings and had a career-high nine
strikeouts, including Desmond Jennings three times.

”We want to do everything we can to beat every team, so if
they’re in the race, so be it,” Simon said. ”We want to win every
game.”

So do the Rays.

”Realistically, we’re not going to win the rest of our games,”
manager Joe Maddon said. ”Hopefully, we just lose a couple.”

Simon retired 12 straight batters and took a 1-0 lead into the
sixth. After B.J. Upton drew a one-out walk and stole second, Evan
Longoria sent a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall.

But the Orioles bounced back in the seventh. Nolan Reimold
walked and stole second before pinch-hitter Jake Fox chased Price
with a run-scoring double to left-center.

Baltimore got an unearned run in the first inning when J.J.
Hardy doubled and scored when shortstop Sean Rodriguez threw wildly
to first base after fielding a grounder by Nick Markakis.

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with no outs in the second before
Simon struck out John Jaso and got Rodriguez to hit into a double
play. The Rays didn’t get another runner until Upton walked in the
sixth, setting the stage for Longoria’s 26th home run.

After scoring in the first, the Orioles didn’t get a runner to
second base until the sixth. In the fifth, Robert Andino hit a
liner to left that Jennings snagged on the run at the warning
track.

In the sixth, Hardy reached on an infield hit and Markakis
walked before Guerrero hit into a double play. Price then retired
Wieters on a grounder to third.

NOTES: By stealing second base in the second inning, Tampa Bay’s
Johnny Damon became the ninth player in baseball history with 200
homers and 400 steals. … Jones missed a fourth straight start
with a sore right thumb. He was named the Orioles winner of the
Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work in the community.
… Tampa Bay RHP Kyle Farnsworth is out with a right elbow injury.
Maddon said he thinks Farnsworth is improving and will return
shortly. Joel Peralta served as the closer on Monday. … Baltimore
has scheduled RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-17) for the final game of the
three-game series Wednesday night. Guthrie leads the majors in
losses. The Rays will start RHP Wade Davis (10-8).