BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles began Friday night tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
They no longer are, thanks to Nick Johnson.
Johnson, who started his Orioles career a frightening 0-for-28, hit a two-run seventh inning home run to give the Orioles a 4-3 win before 26,669 at Oriole Park.
For six innings, Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson limited the Orioles (21-12) to two runs and just four hits. Adam Jones' long home run in the second, his 10th of the season, and Nick Markakis' sixth, in the sixth inning, kept Baltimore within a run.
After Hellickson got two outs in the seventh and gave up a single to Chris Davis, Johnson hit his first home run in more than two years off Joel Peralta (0-2).
"I had my legs under me. I wasn't hitting with skates the way I have been all year," Johnson said. "I squared it, but I didn't know I got it. I think the wind blew it out. I put a good swing on it."
Manager Buck Showalter badly wanted Johnson on the team, and stuck with him through the frustrating first week of the season.
"You trust guys with Nick's makeup, and the things he's been through to get to this point," Showalter said. "He'll be the first to tell you that tonight was one night. With some of the injuries we're having we're going to once again need some guys to step up."
Dana Eveland, whose contract was purchased before the game, threw six sloppy innings, allowing three runs and five hits, with six walks and two hit batters. He was bailed out by Johnson and Matt Wieters, who held onto the ball when Sean Rodriguez tried to bowl him over in the fourth.
"They always have the option to go around, but at the same time, if you take away the plate, they always have the option to run over you to, so it's part of the game," Wieters said. "Thank God, I hung onto the ball."
Tampa Bay (20-13) scored two runs in the inning, but it could have been more.
Wieters held his ground, Rodriguez was out, and otherwise, a messy performance by Eveland would have been a lot worse.
"He would have been out of the game, and we would have been in the bullpen earlier," Showalter said.
"He battled his way through it, but six walks and hit batters, it won't work in the future, and he knows that."
NOTES: Reliever Matt Lindstrom was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an injury to his right middle finger. Lindstrom allowed his first two earned runs of the season in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader.
He has a 1.20 ERA in 13 games with four walks and 14 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Lindstrom's spot on the 25-man roster was taken by Eveland. Infielder Zelous Wheeler, who was playing at Bowie, was designated for assignment to make room for Eveland on the 40-man roster.
Tsuyoshi Wada underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Friday. The surgery was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum. "The procedure went as planned and Dr. Yocum felt good about how it went. He predicts a full recovery. I'm glad to have this over with and look forward to beginning my rehabilitation so I can get back to pitching for the Orioles as soon as possible," Wada said in a statement. The recovery is expected to last for a year.
Nolan Reimold was given an epidural injection for his herniated disc on Friday morning. Showalter said that he doesn't expect him to be able to play when he's eligible to come off the disabled next Wednesday.
Luke Scott returned to Baltimore for the first time since he signed with Tampa Bay over the winter. Scott, who spent the last four seasons with the Orioles was 1-for-3 in his return.
Jen Baile from Manchester Elementary School was given a Heavy Hitter Award on the field before the game.