Upton breaks out of slump to lift Rays past Orioles
If anyone could appreciate how B.J. Upton felt, it was Dioner Navarro.
"I feel like I haven't been contributing offensively," Upton said Tuesday after his seventh-inning double ended an 0-for-20 skid - longest of his career - and helped the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3.
"I don't know if I'd say it was a relief, but it was definitely a little bit of weight off my shoulders."
Upton was stuck in a 5-for-53 rut. Navarro was an equally frustrated 5 for 46 before pulling out of his funk Tuesday with a double and single that helped the defending AL champions rally from a 3-1 deficit.
"I know my numbers don't show it, but I've been feeling good at the plate," said Navarro, an All-Star last season who is hitting .179. "It's huge to know I contributed."
Matt Garza pitched eight strong innings and major league RBI leader Evan Longoria drove in three runs for the Rays, who salvaged a split of the two-game series to finish 4-2 on the homestand.
Garza (3-2), who took a bid for a perfect game into the seventh inning against Boston last week, allowed three runs and four hits. Brian Roberts and Gregg Zaun homered to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
"All the credit goes to the offense," Garza said. "They picked me up."
Longoria's pop-fly double off Koji Uehara (2-2) tied it 3-all in the sixth. The 2008 AL rookie of the year singled to left to drive in two runs for a 6-3 lead in the seventh.
Adam Jones had two hits off Garza, one a ninth-inning double that ended the right-hander's attempt for a complete game. Garza walked two and struck out two, improving to 6-0 lifetime against the Orioles.
Brian Shouse got the first two outs of the ninth, and Troy Percival finished up for his fourth save.
Uehara allowed six runs - three earned - and seven hits in his first outing since being hit in the chest by a line drive last week. He walked one and struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings.
"Koji has gotten better each time out. Today, he made it look real easy," Batlimore manager Dave Trembley said.
"The guy was tremendous. I don't think he can do any more than he did. ... It's just too bad we didn't get any more runs for him."
Roberts hit his fourth homer after Robert Andino reached on an error in the third. Zaun hit his first, lining a pitch down the right-field line into the seats to give Baltimore a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
Garza didn't give up another hit until Jones doubled to begin the ninth.
"Two pitches, three runs. That was about it," Navarro said. "They didn't do anything else."
Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford singled in the first, stole second and continued around to score when catcher Zaun's throw skipped past the bag and center fielder Jones picked up the ball and threw wildly past third base for a second error.
Uehara retired 14 straight after Crawford's single. The Rays finally broke through against the right-hander when Gabe Kapler reached on an error leading off the sixth and Navarro followed with his first extra-base hit since April 18.
Crawford's RBI grounder trimmed the Orioles' lead to 3-2. Longoria, who has 34 RBIs, tied it when his pop fly dropped just beyond the reach of three converging defenders for a double that extended his hitting streak to nine games.
"The one that really hurt was Longoria's ball that just fell inside the chalk line down the right-field line," Trembley said.
"That was a great pitch. If it goes foul, it's a different ballgame. It doesn't. It found a slot."
Crawford has stolen at least one base in a Rays-record eight consecutive games, the longest streak in the majors since Corey Patterson did it nine straight games for Baltimore in 2006. ... Rays C Shawn Riggans, on the DL because of right shoulder tendinitis, began a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Montgomery. ... Despite drawing an average of 12,941 for the two-game series, the Rays are averaging 26,434 for 13 home dates - about 60 percent better than at the same point a year ago.