Rays deal hapless O's another loss
The Baltimore Orioles are in a late-season free-fall.
Pat Burrell hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and pinch-hitter Willy Aybar had one of four Tampa Bay homers as the Rays extended the Orioles' losing streak to 11 games with a 7-6 victory Monday night.
"We're a young team and guys are learning on the job," Orioles pitcher Mark Hendrickson said. "I think the one thing that we need to take from this year and really apply to next year is learning how to win. It's a mindset. As a young player you need to experience a little bit of it to be able to do it over the course of a six-month season."
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The recent slide, the longest since Baltimore lost 12 in a row in August 2004, might be coming at a bad time for manager Dave Trembley, whose job status is expected to be determined by next week.
"I've never put myself ahead of anybody," Trembley said. "I don't feel sorry for myself. We do the very best we can. My responsibility is to prepare them to play hard, be professional. Put guys into situations where I think they can be successful. And if anybody would have the guts to step up and tell me I haven't done that, I'd tell them (you're wrong)."
The Orioles left 14 on base and went 5 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
"We battled," Trembley said. "We came up short."
Ben Zobrist opened the eighth with a double off Chris Ray (0-4) and went to third on B.J. Upton's grounder. Burrell's fly ball against Danys Baez broke 6-all tie.
"Right now we're just trying to persevere until the end and keep playing hard," Zobrist said.
Tampa Bay tied it at 6 on Aybar's three-run shot in the seventh off reliever Matt Albers.
Gabe Kapler, Zobrist and Evan Longoria also homered for the Rays, who are 8-5 since an 11-game skid. Tampa Bay has 193 homers this season, breaking the team record of 190 set in 2006.
Baltimore got a two-run homer from Brian Roberts. The Orioles (60-96) are a season-worst 36 games under .500.
Lance Cormier (3-3) pitched a scoreless inning before Grant Balfour got the final out in the ninth with a runner on first for his second save.
After Matt Wieters had an RBI single during a two-run third, Roberts gave the Orioles a 4-2 advantage on his two-run shot in the fourth. Jeff Fiorentino, in the fifth, and Melvin Mora one inning later had run-scoring singles to make it 6-3.
Kapler and Zobrist hit solo homers to put the Rays up 2-0 in the first. Longoria's 32nd homer pulled Tampa Bay to 4-3 in the fourth. Longoria has 110 RBIs this season.
Tampa Bay rookie Jeff Niemann failed in his sixth attempt to win his 13th game, allowing four runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings. Hendrickson gave up three runs - all on solo homers - and three hits over six innings.
"We get paid to win and we're not winning right now," Hendrickson said. "It's frustrating and nobody is happy with it."
Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer continues to improve following back surgery on Sept. 2. He has resumed driving his car and is set to start a rehab program next week. When Zimmer, in his 61st year in baseball, was asked about being ready for spring training, he smiled and said yes. ... Trembley confirmed that rookie RHP Chris Tillman has been shut down for the rest of the season due to the number of innings he's pitched this year. ... Baltimore RHP Bob McCrory will undergo tests for a sore shoulder. ... Orioles OF Felix Pie (left quadriceps strain) had tests and missed his third straight game. ... Baltimore has lost 12 straight games played on Monday.