BALTIMORE — When the Orioles' bats came out of a slumber on Saturday, it was too late.
Wei-Yin Chen had already endured one of his worst starts of the season and the shortest of his career. The left-hander lasted just 3 1-3 innings, Baltimore was handcuffed by Tampa Bay starter Erik Bedard, and the Orioles fell 5-1 before 36,387 at Camden Yards.
Chen (7-3) struggled early. He gave up a leadoff home run to Desmond Jennings to begin the game. Chen later gave up two more home runs, matching his season-high in homers allowed.
"You don’t want to give up any home runs," Chen said through his interpreter. "We didn’t do that at the start of the season. I didn’t do anything differently. Lately, I’ve been leaving more pitches up in the zone."
The left-hander suffered his first loss since May 3 and gave up five runs for the third time this season. With one out in the third, Chen gave up a one-out home run to Sean Rodriguez, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Just two innings later, Kevin Kiermaier became the first left-handed batter to hit a homer off Chen this season, blasting a two-run shot to right to make it 5-0 Tampa Bay (34-49). Chen gave up seven hits and walked a pair of batters for the second straight start.
"He wasn't getting the ball where he usually gets it where he drives it on the inner half and drives it on the outer half," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said he felt Chen was throwing well, but just left too many pitches up in the zone.
"This league will punish you when you miss up," Joseph said, "especially with two strikes and against guys we know we should get out."
Meanwhile, Bedard (4-5), a former Oriole, dominated Baltimore for seven innings. After giving up a one-out single to J.J. Hardy in the second, the left-hander retired 12 in a row.
That run ended in the sixth when Nick Markakis hit his seventh homer of the season, a shot to the right-field flag court for Baltimore's first run.
After working a clean seventh inning, Bedard returned for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Hardy. Manny Machado followed with a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole, his sixth, to cut the deficit to 5-3 and chase Bedard.
The Tampa Bay starter gave up three runs on five hits in seven-plus innings, throwing just 8 of his 87 pitches for balls.
"He just showed us a different look with that curveball. He was slow with it, really slow," Joseph said. "Apparently he threw a lot of pitches that looked like strikes that we were chasing out of the zone. He was on today. We'll see him again and we'll hopefully have a better fate next time."
The Orioles (42-38) rallied late after Bedard exited. Pinch-hitter Delmon Young got a hit off Grant Balfour and Markakis singled.
After Steve Pearce popped up, Adam Jones singled in a run off Tampa Bay left-hander Jake McGee. Nelson Cruz came up with runners on the corners, but flew out to center to end the inning.
McGee worked the ninth for his third save.
Baltimore will need to win Sunday to salvage a series split. In the first three games of the series, the Orioles have gone 3 for 19 with runners on scoring position and stranded 17 runners on base.
NOTE: Dylan Bundy will make his fourth rehab start on Thursday for High Class-A Frederick. The right-hander, who is recovering from last year's Tommy John surgery, pitched the first three games for Aberdeen.
Reach staff writer Jake Rill at 410-857-7896 or email@example.com.