J.J. Hardy did what the Tampa Bay Rays could not: Come up with a clutch hit in the ninth inning.
Hardy’s single drove in the decisive run with two outs, Chris Davis homered and the Baltimore Orioles won 2-1 on Friday night to extend the Rays’ losing streak to six games.
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Travis Snider led off the ninth with an infield hit off Brandon Gomes (1-2). With two outs, Davis greeted Xavier Cedeno with a single that advanced pinch-runner Everth Cabrera to third. 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.
”This was a big night for us,” said Hardy, who came in batting .194.
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Darren O’Day (1-0), who worked out of the jam by striking out Steven Souza Jr. and Asdrubal Cabrera before getting Jake Elmore to ground into a force at third base.
”Obviously it’s frustrating. Bases loaded, no outs in a tie ballgame,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”You’ve also got to give credit to the guy on the mound. He’s been very successful here for quite some time.”
O’Day gave up two singles and hit a batter before bouncing back.
”The second part was more fun than the first,” the right-hander said. ”It’s not how we drew it up, but anytime you put a zero on the board it’s exciting.”
Souza homered for the Rays, who have lost their last three games in the ninth or 10th inning.
”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’ homer was his fourth 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.
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.
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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.