ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Orioles have found many ways to lose over the last three weeks, but their 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night was different than most.
The Orioles, who took a one-run lead into the eighth inning, hadn't lost a game this season when leading after seven innings. They were 39-0 in those situations before Friday night. That shows how good their bullpen had been late in games, and how resilient they've been down the stretch.
Orioles setup man Darren O'Day has been so clutch this season, especially when entering the game with runners on base. When the Rays scored three runs in the eighth inning with O'Day on the mound, it marked the first time this season that O'Day has allowed three hits in an outing and the first time he has allowed multiple earned runs in an appearance this year.
The two runs charged to O'Day – an inherited runner was charged to Chris Tillman after his leadoff walk in the eighth - matched his previous 21 outings combined. O'Day had also posted 10 straight scoreless outings against Tampa Bay, not allowing a run against the Rays since June 16, 2014. He had never allowed three hits against the Rays in 43 appearances against Tampa Bay, dating to 2008 when O'Day was pitching with the Los Angeles Angels.
Given all that, it's easy to overlook that Friday was another woeful outing by the Orioles offense. Runs were going to be at a premium against Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer, but the Orioles were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, stranding eight base runners on the night.
The Orioles also struck out 14 times Friday, their most in a game since June 29.
Manny Machado reached base four times Friday in his first career start in the third in the batting order. He was 2-for-2 with a walk, scoring the Orioles' only run of the game when he scored from first base on Chris Davis' RBI double in the fourth inning.
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Experimenting with Jimmy Paredes in the leadoff spot didn't go so well. Making his seventh career start atop the batting order, Paredes went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. That marked the first time an Orioles leadoff hitter recorded four strikeouts in a game in nearly four years, since J.J. Hardy whiffed four times on July 27, 2011.
Adam Jones was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Friday – stranding five base runners – and is hitless in his past 13 at bats, with four strikeouts in that span. The bottom third of the Orioles batting order was 0-for-12 on Friday.
The Orioles now turn to right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-6, 4.21 ERA) to end their four-game losing streak. Gonzalez is 1-1 with a 0.84 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season, allowing just two earned runs over 21 1/3 innings with 17 strikeouts and six walks. He has held Tampa Bay to a .139 batting average this season, most recently allowing one run over eight innings in a 2-1 win on May 29 against them at Camden Yards.
Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez (8-3, 3.54) has won his past two decisions and has allowed one run or fewer in eight of his past nine starts, posting a 1.29 ERA over that span.
That stretch started with a strong start against the Orioles in Baltimore on May 30, when Ramirez threw a season-high seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in a 3-0 Tampa Bay victory.
That was Ramirez's only start against the Orioles all year, but he hasn't allowed a run against them over 8 1/3 innings this season.