B.J. Upton was probably guilty of poor judgment when he went into a tirade after being ejected by an umpire.
He deserves credit, however, for making the right decision to appeal the subsequent two-game suspension.
Upton hit a three-run homer and doubled twice, Evan Longoria homered and drove in four runs, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-2 Saturday to tie a single-season club record with their seventh straight road win.
Upton’s home run made it 7-0 in the fifth and validated his desire to appeal a suspension by Major League Baseball for his actions in a game against Toronto on Wednesday. The suspension, handed down Saturday, was supposed to begin immediately.
But Upton appealed because, he said, ”I like hitting in this park.”
And so he did. The three hits raised Upton’s lifetime numbers at Camden Yards to .291 with nine homers and 27 RBIs.
”It just so happens I had a good day,” Upton said.
Upton’s decision to play received the blessing of manager Joe Maddon, who was delighted to have his center fielder in the lineup.
”I’m glad we did that,” Maddon said with a grin. ”A really great day. Good at-bats. He looked good, he looked comfortable. A big part of our win.”
Longoria had a big role, too. He doubled in a run in the first inning and hit a three-run shot off Jeremy Guthrie (1-5) in the third. It was his first homer of the season, although that can be attributed to a one-month stay on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle.
”It’s just a matter of time,” Maddon said.
Ben Zobrist tied a career high with four hits and scored three runs to help provide Tampa Bay rookie Jeremy Hellickson (3-2) with his usual dose of offensive support. Coming in, the Rays were averaging 9.19 runs per nine innings when the right-hander pitched.
Hellickson gave up three hits and five walks over five scoreless innings.
”I’m really glad we got the win, but I need to not walk as many people,” he said.
The Rays’ seven successive road wins ties the record set by the 2004 team. Tampa Bay had an eight-game run that began in September 2009 and ended in April 2010.
”For years, the Trop was really our haven,” Maddon said. ”All of a sudden it’s kind of reversed roles a little bit.”
Rays left fielder Sam Fuld saved a run in the fourth with an exceptional diving catch on a sinking liner by Robert Andino with two outs and a runner on second. In the eighth, Fuld robbed Matt Wieters of at least extra bases with a leaping catch at the wall.
Guthrie allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings. In his first five starts, the right-hander yielded nine earned runs and three homers. In his last two outings, he’s surrendered 11 runs and four home runs.
”I actually felt as sharp as I’ve felt all season,” Guthrie said. ”Unfortunately, I kind of wasted it giving up big home runs with two outs.”
Nick Markakis had three of the Orioles’ five hits and drove in both runs, with an infield hit in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Baltimore stranded 12 and went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
The Orioles received 10 walks. It was only the second time in franchise history that Baltimore walked at least 10 times and scored two or fewer runs in a nine-inning game (also against Chicago on July 14, 1974).
”It’s real frustrating,” third baseman Mark Reynolds aid. ”We left a lot of guys on base. And if you look at our track record of the guys in this offense, that is not what we do. Normally, these guys drive in runs.”
Down 1-0, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the second before Hellickson struck out Andino and retired Brian Roberts on a popup.
”That bases-loaded jam, to Andino, that was one the only at-bats I felt real confident in my fastball,” Hellickson said. ”Other than that, I had to fight through everything.”
In the Tampa Bay third, John Jaso walked and took third on a double by Zobrist before Longoria drove a 1-1 pitch deep into the left-field seats for a 4-0 lead.
Upton hit his fifth homer in the fifth, and Johnny Damon’s RBI double in the sixth made it 8-0.
NOTES: Tampa Bay’s Reid Brignac has gone a franchise-record 33 straight games without an extra-base hit. … Zobrist has hit in 13 straight games. … Orioles LHP Brian Matusz (strained ribcage muscle) pitched two innings in extended spring training in Florida. Matusz, who has been on the DL all season, could be activated on May 21 or May 26, manager Buck Showalter said.