ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jamie Walker had walked angrily to the visiting clubhouse, again fearing that one of his pitches cost the Orioles another victory, when Ramon Hernandez stepped to the plate with two outs and the score tied in top of the ninth inning.
With one swing, Hernandez provided the Orioles with a badly needed win and picked up Walker after he had surrendered another game-tying, late-game home run to Carlos Pena. Hernandez slammed Dan Wheeler's pitch into the left-field seats for a solo homer that was the difference in the Orioles' 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced 19,295 last night at Tropicana Field.
Orioles@Rays Today, 1:40 p.m., MASN2, 105.7 FM Starters: O's Brian Burres (1-0, 1.29) vs. Rays' Jeff Niemann (major league debut)
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A recap of the Orioles' 3-2 victory over the Rays last night:
Jamie Walker is the Orioles' situational left-handed reliever, and manager Dave Trembley will continue to turn to him late in the game against tough left-handed hitters. But for the second straight night, Walker failed to retire Carlos Pena. Walker surrendered a three-run, game-tying home run to Pena in the seventh inning in Friday's series opener. That was on a 2-2 curveball. Yesterday, he tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball by Pena and that also wound up in the seats, tying the game at 2 in the eighth inning. Walker was bailed out when Ramon Hernandez hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth off Dan Wheeler.
CABRERA COMES UP BIG
With his team in the midst of a three-game losing streak and the bullpen running on fumes, the Orioles needed a big outing from Daniel Cabrera, and the 6-foot-9 right-hander delivered. Cabrera allowed just one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, leaving after Akinori Iwamura's infield single in the seventh that could have easily been ruled an error on second baseman Brian Roberts. Cabrera walked three and struck out four and showed poise when he needed it most. The Rays ended his shutout in the sixth on Evan Longoria's RBI single. They still had two men on and just one out, but Cabrera got the speedy Nathan Haynes to hit into a double play.
ONE BAD INNING
Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton is one of the best young players in the league, but he had a top of the second inning last night that he would like to forget. He took a bad route to Aubrey Huff's line drive into the right center field gap, the ball bouncing behind him for a double. He then caught Luke Scott's fly ball, but his throw was far too high to get Huff, who tagged up and advanced to third. The next hitter, Ramon Hernandez, hit a line drive to left-center field that Upton dived for and missed. He then jogged after the ball as Hernandez headed into third for just the sixth triple of his career.
The Orioles finish their six-game road trip and their three-game series at Tropicana Field with Brian Burres (1-0, 1.29) on the mound against Rays' right-hander Jeff Niemann. It is the much-anticipated major league debut for Niemann, the fourth overall pick in 2004 out of Rice University. Niemann was 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts at Triple-A Durham before being called up to replace the injured Matt Garza in the Rays' rotation. Burres has struggled against the Rays, allowing 16 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings over nine appearances.