Carroll County Times

Orioles drop series opener to Rays

BALTIMORE - They put runner after runner in scoring position against one of the league's top pitchers, and almost every time they failed to convert.
The Baltimore Orioles had plenty of chances to knock Tampa Bay's David Price out of the game Monday. Yet the reigning Cy Young Award winner staved off multiple threats and the Orioles failed to strike first in their three-game series against the Rays.
Price held Baltimore in check while Orioles starter Chris Tillman remained stuck on 14 wins in Tampa's 4-3 win in front of 25,044 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles stranded 15 runners, a season high, and went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter tends to point at his team's ability to create scoring chances rather than the ones that don't result in runs. But Monday's numbers were almost too much to ignore.
"I know you're saying my line before I give it, but there's good things happening to put people out there," Showalter said. "We had some good at-bats. Our guys were engaged. It's a frustrated locker room right now, but they're good and we think we have a chance to be, too. It's a frustrating game."
Tillman missed on notching win No. 15 for the third straight attempt, and the Orioles (67-57) didn't help much with their missed opportunities. Tillman (14-4) tossed six innings and struck out five but lost for the first time since July 6 behind a pair of home runs from the Rays, who have won five of six.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer, his 16th of the season, onto the flag court in right field with one out in the fourth to give the Rays a 4-2 lead. Tillman walked Yunel Escobar before Joyce hit the first pitch he saw over the fence.
Evan Longoria had the other home run, a solo shot in the first and his 25th of the year. Longoria has 21 career homers against Baltimore.
Matt Wieters got the Orioles to within 4-3 with a solo blast in the seventh inning, but Tampa's bullpen took over from there. Fernando Rodney allowed a walk and a hit in the ninth but converted his 28th save.
"We've put ourselves in good opportunities," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. "I know you want to look at it in a negative way, but I always look at in the positive. We had men on base and we created the opportunity, we were just unable to get that big hit. Just imagine if we he had none and left nobody on base. Then we'd really be getting cussed out."
Brian Roberts left six men on base to lead that category, with Steve Pearce stranding five and Nick Markakis and Chris Davis four apiece.
Yet they had numerous chances to send Price (7-5) packing.
Wieters missed a three-run home run by inches in the third inning, and Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings came just as close to making a sparkling catch. But the ball glanced off the wall in dead center and Manny Machado scored to tie the game at 2-2.
Again, the Orioles had two runners in scoring position after that. But Price escaped further damage.
Three straight hits with one out in the third put the Orioles on the board, and Danny Valencia continued his career domination of Price. Valencia, who got promoted Monday from Class-AAA Norfolk and started as the designated hitter, came in 7 for 10 all-time against Price. He added another hit with an RBI double to left-center, and the Orioles trailed 2-1.
But Price worked out of the jam by retiring Pearce and Roberts, and Baltimore left runners on second and third.
"I still thought we put together good at-bats. We didn't get the hits," Wieters said. "We hit some balls that were right at them, but that's baseball."
Tillman needed 51 pitches to get through the first two innings, and the red-hot Rays (71-52) made him pay. Longoria homered in the first and Kelly Johnson, the No. 9 hitter, slapped a RBI single to right field in the second to make it 2-0.
Price struck out six but allowed 10 hits in five innings, something that Showalter had to have enjoyed at that time in the game.
If only the Orioles could break through.
"You get them out there, and you've got to get them in," Showalter said. "We want to get every one of them in, our guys do. But it's hard to do. Those things will turn if you keep grinding and it will bounce our way."