ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Baltimore Orioles have spent all season climbing out of difficult spots. Now, they have to depend on others for help.
After the Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 13,666 at Tropicana Field Monday night, they realized they were now one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East with just two to go.
Sure, the Orioles qualified for the postseason Sunday, but they will have to win both of their remaining games against Tampa Bay and somehow hope the Yankees lose their two against the Red Sox. Only then can Baltimore win the AL East outright. New York beat Boston 10-2 Monday.
"They win? That's a given. They're playing home the rest of their games, so you know that's a given. We'll do what we can do," manager Buck Showalter said.
The Orioles (92-68) led Oakland by a half-game in the race for the top Wild Card spot. The Athletics hosted Texas late Monday night.
Baltimore was held to two hits in the first eight innings by Alex Cobb and Kyle Farnsworth.
By then, they trailed 5-1. Though they had the tying run on with none out in the ninth, Fernando Rodney got the last three outs for his 47th save.
With the game tied at 1, Evan Longoria led off the bottom of the seventh by bouncing a ball that Manny Machado booted for an error.
"Should have caught it," Machado said. "Took a little side spin on me, ate me up. Should've taken a step forward, but I should have made the out."
That error started the Rays (89-71) on their way to a three-run inning against Wei-Yin Chen (12-11). Chen hasn't won a game since Aug. 19.
"That's just stats. The only thing I wanted to prove to everybody is prove that I can pitch," Chen said through his translator.
He allowed four runs, but just one of them earned in 6 2/3 innings.
After Machado's error, Jeff Keppinger singled and moved Longoria to third. Longoria scored on Ben Francisco's scoring fly ball. Chris Giminez's two-run double made it 4-1.
After Tampa Bay added a fifth run in the eighth, Chris Davis slammed his 32nd home run of the year off Farnsworth in the top of the ninth, a two-run shot. Davis, who was named the AL's Co-Player of the Week on Monday, hit his sixth home run in the past five games. He's the first Oriole since Melvin Mora to homer in five straight games.
Cobb (11-9) allowed Matt Wieters' 23rd home run in the top of the seventh to tie the score at 1. He gave up just one other hit, to J.J. Hardy in the fourth.
"He's been pitching well, as all their people do. That's why they are where they are. They pitch well and they're very deep, and tonight's no different," Showalter said.
"But we had a shot because we pitched well. It's a difficult task, but as long as you stay in that striking distance. Matty gave us a big blow and we let them back up off the deck the next inning."
Chen allowed a leadoff home run to Ben Zobrist, the 20th of the year,, in the fourth.
NOTES: Nick Markakis did not have the pins removed from his broken left thumb, putting his return even if the Orioles make the World Series in doubt. Markakis will have the pins removed early next week, then wear a splint for a week for two. He said that he'd be out for a minimum of three more weeks. ... Jason Hammel threw 73 pitches in a simulated game in Sarasota, Fla. If he feels fine today, he could pitch in a Division Series game this weekend should the Orioles qualify, Showalter said. ... Wilson Betemit (right wrist) had the splint removed and is five to seven days away from starting to hit. ... Steve Johnson's knee and foot are fine, and he's day-to-day. ... Tsuyoshi Wada visited with the club today. Wada had Tommy John surgery in May, and he's beginning to play catch. ... Outfielder Steve Pearce joined the club for the rest of the regular season.