Carroll County Times

O's blow lead, fall to Rays

BALTIMORE - Jim Johnson's save opportunities had gotten to be so routine that when he blew a save in Tuesday's game against the San Diego Padres, it was a big surprise.

But then on Saturday, he did it again.

Entering the ninth inning with a two-run lead, Johnson allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to score five runs, part of a six-run inning, as the Orioles fell 10-6 before 34,685 at Camden Yards extending their losing streak to a season-high four games.

The loss snapped Baltimore's franchise-record streak of 109 straight wins when leading after the seventh inning. It is the first time they've lost when leading after seven since August 8, 2011.

It was also Johnson's second straight blown save after he had successfully converted 35 in a row.

"We were strong enough to finish out that game," Johnson said. "I just blew it. I just sucked tonight."

Kelly Johnson started the Tampa Bay rally with a one-out solo homer to cut Baltimore's lead to 6-5. Jim Johnson (1-4) then walked back-to-back batters and gave up a broken-bat single to Desmond Jennings to load the bases.

Matt Joyce then hit a two-run double to right-center to give the Rays (22-20) a 7-6 lead. Darren O'Day, who relieved Johnson, served up another two-run double to Ben Zobrist and later issued a bases-loaded walk to Luke Scott to make it 10-6.

"He had little command issues," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He usually works his way through them, like a lot of our pitchers."

Johnson said his issues on Saturday were unlike the ones he had on Tuesday.

"Different days, different feel and different mistakes made," Johnson said. "It was not getting that first pitch strike. You get the first pitch and it changes the whole at-bat."

But on Saturday, he did not. And it cost Baltimore (23-19) a game which they led 4-0 in the first inning.

Joyce, who knocked in the game-winning run, said he could see Johnson didn't have his best stuff.

"It was absolutely huge to be able to get to Jim Johnson like that," Joyce said. "Jim struggled a little bit with his control."

Tampa Bay reliever Alex Torres (1-0) pitched four hitless innings of relief to earn the win.

Nate McLouth led off the bottom of the first inning with a single to left off of Rays starter Roberto Hernandez. After a Manny Machado groundout, Nick Markakis belted a deep RBI double to right field.

Adam Jones then hit a two-run homer to left field and was followed by an opposite-field home run by Chris Davis, his 12th of the season. It is the second time Baltimore has hit back-to-back homers this year.

The Orioles have scored 16 runs over the last two games, but have lost both of them.

"It's definitely exhausting to put up that many runs and come away with two losses," Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis said. "I think we got the wind taken out of our sails a little bit."

Starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens made his Orioles and season debut. He gave up four runs on six hits in five innings and was in line to get the win entering the ninth.

Baltimore has lost six of its last eight and have clinched its second straight series loss. McLouth said it's certainly been a rough stretch, but it's nothing to get down about.

"We're not clicking great right now, but unfortunately you go through little spells in a season like we play," McLouth said. "There's no sense of sitting here and beating yourselves up about it. Wipe it clean and try to get it done tomorrow."

NOTES: After the game, Baltimore sent second baseman Ryan Flaherty down to Class-AAA Norfolk. ... The Orioles recalled right-hander Jake Arrieta from Class-AAA Norfolk before the game to fill a spot in the bullpen. ... Baltimore sent down reliever Alex Burnett for the third time this season and placed outfielder Nolan Reimold on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain. ... The Orioles transferred second baseman Brian Roberts from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.