Steven Souza Jr.’s home run the only offense as Rays fall to Orioles
BALTIMORE (AP) — Tie game, ninth inning, bases loaded, no outs.
The Tampa Bay Rays couldn’t have asked for a better situation to end their five-game losing streak.
Three straight outs followed without a runner crossing home plate, and the Baltimore Orioles scored in the bottom of the inning for a 2-1 victory Friday night.
It was the third straight game the Rays lost in the final inning, and this one hurt the most because of the squandered opportunity.
"Obviously, it’s frustrating," manager Kevin Cash said.
Two singles and a batter hit by a pitch filled the bases in the ninth for the Rays against Darren O’Day (1-0). Steven Souza Jr. and Asdrubal Cabrera struck out before Jake Elmore bounced into a force at third base.
In the bottom half, the Orioles got the clutch hit that Tampa Bay could not.
Travis Snider led off the ninth with an infield hit off Brandon Gomes (1-2). With two outs, Chris Davis greeted Xavier Cedeno with a single that advanced pinch-runner Everth Cabrera to third. J.J. Hardy then lined a single to left against Steve Geltz.
As the sellout crowd of 45,505 roared its approval, the Orioles mobbed Hardy between first and second base.
Souza homered for the Rays, who fell under .500 (24-25) for the first time since April 22.
"We’ve just got to bear down," Souza said. "With runners in scoring position, we’ve got to find ways to be productive. That’s the key right now. When we have runners in scoring position, we’re not doing anything, myself included. We can get better at that."
Davis hit his fourth homer in four games after a 12-game homerless streak. His 12 home runs are twice that of any teammate.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez gave up one run and three hits over eight innings. He struck out six, walked none, and with the exception of the home run by Souza, the right-hander did not permit a runner past first base.
Tampa Bay rookie Nathan Karns allowed one hit in six innings, striking out seven and walking two. He retired nine of his last 10 batters and left with a 1-0 lead.
"We have a great bullpen," Karns said. "They made a call to give it to them. Unfortunately it just didn’t go our way tonight."
Cash said: "I think it’s always a tough decision when a guy’s throwing well, but that’s how much confidence we have in all of our guys."
Reliever Kevin Jepsen held the lead for just one out before Davis connected in the seventh. It was only the second homer allowed by Jepsen, and it ended his run of eight straight scoreless appearances.
Gonzalez struck out three of the first five batters before Souza hit a 1-2 pitch into the seats in left, his team-leading eighth home run. Souza missed the previous three games with a sprained left wrist.
Karns retired the first eight batters he faced and didn’t give up a hit until Snider led off the fourth with a sharp single to left.
START ME UP
Rays: Karns has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of last nine starts, going 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA.
Orioles: Gonzalez is 1-1 with an 0.84 ERA against the Rays this season. This was his first start this season without a walk.
Rays: SS Cabrera (groin) and RF Souza returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Sunday. "They both could’ve played, but it was probably smart to give them some days off," Cash said.
Orioles: C Matt Wieters (elbow) is on course to come off the 60-day DL next Friday in Cleveland, manager Buck Showalter said. The plan is for Wieters to play minor league games on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before joining the team. He hasn’t played in the majors since May 10, 2014.
Rays: Erasmo Ramirez (2-2, 6.62 ERA) starts Saturday against the Orioles. He’s got a 3.30 ERA in his last 10 appearances while limiting the opposition to a .160 batting average.
Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen (1-3) seeks his first win in four starts since May 9.