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A strike away from victory, Orioles lose to Rays, 6-4 in 10 innings

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman pitched well for five innings Friday night, but he ran into another middle-inning road block in the opener of a three-game

The Orioles were one strike away from victory Friday night. But closer Brad Brach suffered his fourth blown save of the year in the ninth inning and Darren O'Day gave up a three-run homer in the 10th in a 6-4 extra-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 24,398 at Camden Yards.

Brach got the first two outs of the ninth, but he walked pinch hitter Shane Peterson, balked him to second and sent pinch runner Peter Bourjos to third with a wild pitch. Adeiny Hechavarria then re-tied the game at 3 with his fourth hit of the evening.

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O'Day (1-2) walked the leadoff hitter in the 10th and got Evan Longoria to bounce out to short. The Orioles (39-40) chose to intentionally walk Rays home run leader Logan Morrison, and Steven Souza Jr. launched a long three-run home run to center field to spoil a strong overall pitching performance by the Orioles staff.

"It was a slider and it wasn't a very good one," O'Day said. "You can't  make that mistake in that situation, and he hit it good. … Souza and I faced each other, what, four days ago and I struck him out on a full-count slider. Maybe he was looking for it. I have had success against him in the past. I was comfortable throwing that pitch, but I didn't put it where it needed to be."

Mark Trumbo led off the bottom of the 10th with his 11th homer of the season, but the Orioles lost the opener of the three-game series after winning back-to-back road series against the Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.

Starter Chris Tillman allowed just two runs on six hits through a solid five innings, but quickly loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth on a single by Longoria and a pair of walks. That pushed his pitch count into the 90s, bringing manager Buck Showalter out of the dugout and just-recalled reliever Miguel Castro out of the bullpen to perform a great escape.

Castro fell behind 3-1 to catcher Wilson Ramos before getting him to bounce into a third-to-home-to-first double play. Castro then struck out Tim Beckham to keep the Rays just a run ahead, 2-1.

"Chris' outing, I look at it favorably,'' Showalter said, "but [for] the job that Castro did tonight, we're not even in that game. That's the key to us being into it. What a great job he did."

The Orioles immediately tied the score when Joey Rickard led off the bottom of the sixth with his third homer of the season and his second run-scoring hit of the game. He also drove in the first Orioles run with a one-out double in the third.

The Orioles took the lead in the seventh when Adam Jones led off the inning with a double into the right-field corner and legged it out to third on an error by Souza. Trumbo followed with a sharp single to left to give the Orioles a lead they would hold until the bitter end.

Tillman continues to work his way back from the shoulder injury that hampered him late last season and cropped up again when he tried to resume his throwing program in December. He missed all of spring training and has averaged just over 4 1/3 innings per start since returning from the disabled list in early May.

He displayed decent command and struck out five batters, but spun out of control suddenly after allowing the single to Longoria in the sixth. Eight of his next nine pitches were out of the strike zone and Tillman was out of the game without a chance to win.

“It was definitely better," Tillman said. “I felt pretty good from the get-go and was able to command the fastball on both sides. [The relievers] definitely saved my butt tonight.”

Joey’s flashy fifth: Tillman had things pretty much under control through the fifth, but he got a couple of big defensive assists from Rickard that inning. With one out and a runner on, Rickard sped deep into the left-field corner to crash the wall and catch a long foul ball by Mallex Smith. Rickard then made a fine running, sliding catch to rob Corey Dickerson of a bloop single.

Ramos goes deep: Ramos hit his first home run of the season in only his 10th at-bat after spending the first three months of the season on the disabled list recovering from offseason knee surgery. Ramos spent parts of seven seasons with the Washington Nationals before suffering an ACL injury during the final week of last season. His first homer wasn’t a cheapie. He took Tillman over the center-field fence with a runner aboard in the second inning.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

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