The Tampa Bay Rays know what it takes to win, and making five errors in a game is certainly not part of that formula.
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And so, after the Rays bungled their way to a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night, manager Joe Maddon didn’t have to dig deep to come up with an explanation for the defeat.
”There’s a fine line between winning and losing,” he said. ”Now we’re doing the things that make us lose instead of doing the things that helped us win before.”
The Orioles were outhit 7-6 and struck out 12 times but scored three unearned runs to forge their second straight win in this series between the two top teams in the division. Baltimore leads second-place Tampa Bay by two games and on Sunday will seek to complete its first three-game home sweep of the Rays since July 2007.
Adam Jones had two hits and RBIs for the Orioles, and newcomer Bill Hall hit a solo homer in the eighth.
”I know we won the series now,” Jones said, ”but we want the sweep.”
On Friday night, the Orioles used three home runs to forge a 4-3 win. In this one, they ran around the bases while the Rays booted the ball, threw wildly or were called for catcher’s interference.
”We were fortunate tonight that Tampa uncharacteristically helped us some defensively,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
The five errors, which included three in the second inning, tied a club record. The only other times it happened were in 2000 and 2001.
”We made way too many errors tonight,” Maddon said. ”Normally when you make five errors, you get blown out of games. Tonight we didn’t get blown out because of the effort that was there.”
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore (1-3) walked four and allowed four hits in 4 1-3 innings. He allowed four runs, only one of them earned.
”Yes, they made some errors out there, but they can’t defend against my walks, my 2-0 counts, other stuff I did out there,” Moore said.
Orioles starter Brian Matusz (2-4) gave up three runs, two earned, and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Luis Ayala got four straight outs, Pedro Strop worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Jim Johnson finished for his 11th save, the second in two games. Baltimore’s bullpen is perfect over 6 1-3 innings in this series.
Despite a rash of injuries, Baltimore is tied with Texas for the best record in the American League.
”We found people that we can play with and we can win (with),” Strop said. ”A lot of people are asking me, `Are you surprised at this team?’ We’re not surprised. We aren’t surprised. We’ve been doing what we were hoping. A lot of people are surprised, but we’re not. We are going to keep winning games.”
Brandon Guyer homered for the Rays and former Oriole Luke Scott drove in two runs.
The Rays went up 1-0 in the second on Guyer’s home run, his first hit since being recalled from the minors on Wednesday. He has three career home runs, two against Baltimore.
Baltimore scored two runs in the bottom half, courtesy of three Tampa Bay errors. Jones reached on a wild throw by third baseman Sean Rodriguez and advanced on an errant pickoff throw by Moore. After a walk to Matt Wieters and two strikeouts, Jones scored on Steve Tolleson’s double to left and Wieters came in when Guyton misplayed the ball in the corner.
”I went and played ball in the corner way too aggressively,” Guyton said. ”The ball hit off the brick and made a weird hop. You live and you learn, but something like that is unacceptable.”
In the fifth, two more errors led to two more Baltimore runs and a 4-1 lead. Luis Exposito began the inning by reaching on catcher’s interference, J.J. Hardy singled with one out and Nick Markakis walked to load the bases. Jones then bounced a single up the middle to score two runs, and he took second when center fielder B.J. Upton fumbled the ball.
That ended Moore’s night.
Tampa Bay closed to 4-3 in the sixth, and this time the Orioles were the ones guilty of shoddy fielding. After grabbing a grounder to third, Tolleson stepped on the base for a force out but threw wildly to first, a miscue that put runners on second and third with two outs. Scott followed with a two-run single on a 3-2 pitch.
Notes: The Orioles put 3B Mark Reynolds (oblique) on the 15-day DL and purchased the contract of Hall, who started in LF. … Rays 1B Carlos Pena was not In the starting lineup. He popped out in the ninth and is 3 for 36 with 13 strikeouts in May. … Hideki Matsui, who was signed April 30 to a minor league contract by Tampa Bay, is expected to travel to Toronto over the weekend to apply for his visa. The Jays will play in Toronto on Monday, but Maddon said the timing is a coincidence.