Rays 5, Orioles 4
Less than 24 hours after absorbing a painful defeat against the worst team in the majors, the Tampa Bay Rays again blew a four-run lead and found themselves in a tie game with the Baltimore Orioles.
This time, however, the Rays - and All-Star closer Rafael Soriano - delivered.
Evan Longoria homered, drove in two runs and scored twice, and Tampa Bay rebounded to beat the Orioles 5-4 on Wednesday.
The victory followed an 11-10, 13-inning defeat Tuesday night during which the Rays held an 8-4 lead in the seventh and a 10-9 advantage in the 12th. Soriano yielded a two-run double to Miguel Tejada in the ninth for only his second blown save opportunity.
''That was the first time I felt wrong,'' Soriano recalled after Wednesday's win. ''We were supposed win that game and it didn't happen.''
Eager to erase the memory as quickly as possible, Soriano told Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon before Wednesday's game that he would pitch two innings if needed.
''Oh yeah, I was ready, whatever happens,'' Soriano said.
Entering in the ninth with a one-run lead, the right-hander got three straight outs to earn his 24th save and give Tampa Bay a 2-1 series win.
Soriano and the Rays were determined to bounce back, and that's precisely what happened.
''He didn't like it, and that's what you love,'' Maddon said of Soriano. ''Nobody in here liked last night at all. We came back today, we rectified it, and he was probably at the head of the list.''
Willy Aybar had two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who improved to 7-2 against Baltimore, including 5-1 at Camden Yards.
James Shields (8-9) got the win, despite allowing four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. The right-hander had lost eight of 10 decisions in 11 appearances since May 25.
Ty Wigginton hit his 16th homer and second in two games for Baltimore. The Orioles stranded six and went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Baltimore had the potential tying run at second base in the eighth, but pinch-runner Scott Moore was thrown out trying to advance on a one-out grounder to shortstop.
''It's just unfortunate,'' Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said. ''That's not what you want there. He's in scoring position at second base. That's not a good decision.''
Tampa Bay used one hit and three walks to go up 5-4 in the sixth. B.J. Upton hit a leadoff single and Brad Bergesen (3-8) issued two straight one-out walks to load the bases before Jason Berken got Jason Bartlett to hit into a forceout at the plate. Berken then walked Longoria to force in a run.
''In that situation I'm just trying to make him put the ball into play,'' Berken said. ''The last thing I want to do is walk him and score the go-ahead run. I was just trying to make a good pitch down and away, and I wasn't able to do that.''
Bergesen allowed five runs and nine hits, struck out seven and walked three in 5 1-3 innings. He kept the Orioles close after yielding four runs over the first three innings.
Still, it was another in a series of poor performances by Baltimore starters. Over the past four games, Orioles starters have pitched a combined 15 innings and give up 24 earned runs and 25 hits, along with 13 walks and two hit batters.
After Longoria's 14th homer put Tampa Bay up 1-0 in the first, the Rays got four hits in the second inning, including an RBI single by Reid Brignac and a run-scoring double by Ben Zobrist.
Aybar doubled in Longoria to make it 4-0 in the third.
Baltimore began its comeback with a three-run fourth. After Wigginton hit a two-run homer, Adam Jones singled and scored on a double by Jake Fox.
Luke Scott tied it with a run-scoring grounder in the fifth.
NOTES: Rays OF Carl Crawford (testicular contusion) was given the day off. ... Baltimore's Nick Markakis snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a fifth-inning double. ... The Rays didn't make an error in the series and have only three errors in their last 25 games. ... Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena went 0 for 5 and had only one hit in the series.