Michael Gonzalez got it done, but not before he summoned up images of Don Stanhouse and George Sherrill. The Orioles held on to win, 5-4, and avert a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field, but Gonzalez loaded the bases with a two walks and a hit before finally getting Ben Zobrist to fly out and end the game.
It was about time. The O's played three one-run games at the Trop and were competitive at every turn, but needed to come home for Opening Day with at least one victory over the Rays. Brad Bergesen can get them back to .500 with a big performance tomorrow at Oriole Park.
Don't even want to think about what might have been if Gonzalez had blown another save. He got the first two outs of the inning before walking Dioner Navarro, giving up a hit to Jason Bartlett and walking Carl Crawford to load the bases.
Got to give some credit to Garrett Atkins, who had his first multi-hit game as an Oriole, drove in two big insurance runs and hit safely in every game of the series. Matt Wieters also had a terrific series, going 6 for 12 with a home run.
It wasn't easy for Brian Matusz, but he took his first step toward a possible American League Rookie of the Year Award with his first victory of the 2010 season.
"I'm real happy for him and the team,'' said manager Dave Trembley. "He said before the game that he was going to win and he would not let them beat him...I think the key for him was poise and determination."