ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –- The Orioles come home after a strange road trip. They began with winning two of three in Detroit, and after four straight losses, win the last two at Tampa Bay.
Five days remain before the non-waiver trade deadline, and the Orioles remain relevant.
In their 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 18,613 at Tropicana Field on Sunday, the Orioles showed they had some offense.
For the first time since June 21-23, they produced consecutive games of at least five runs.
"I'm always encouraged. I always think today's the day we're going to get back to our track record a little bit,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Their 4-5 road trip leaves them a game below .500. While they’re still seven games behind the first place New York Yankees in the AL East, they’re 3 ½ games behind the Minnesota Twins, the second wild-card team.
“One game isn’t going to derail the thing right now. We’ve got to keep going at it. If we lose, we’ve got to pick it up and play again tomorrow,” Caleb Joseph said.
Wei-Yin Chen retired the first 11 Tampa Bay (49-51) hitters, and by the time Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth, he had a 5-0 lead.
“Sometimes you’ve get a five-run lead, you get deeper in the game and you kind of put it on cruise control sometimes. It’s not necessarily intentional,” Joseph said.
Chen (5-6) allowed a two-out double by Joey Butler, and his inning was saved when David Lough made a sliding catch on James Loney’s line drive to end the fourth.
“In the first couple innings I felt great and I was just trying to stay the same pace. But later on I think the Rays hitters made some adjustment and hit better and better against me,” Chen said through a translator.
Nolan Reimold badly misjudged Tim Beckham’s fly for a double to start the fourth. Jake Elmore singled, and with one out, Chen hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch to load the bases. Steven Souza struck out and Longoria grounded to third to end the inning.
Chen left in the sixth with runners on first and second and one out and wasn’t pleased with it.
“I was taken out of the game because I allowed a couple runners to get on base. Anybody will be angry when you get taken out of the game in that situation. But that’s not something I can control and I will just accept it,” Chen said through a translator.
After Tommy Hunter walked Beckham, and allowed Butler to advance to third on a ball in the dirt, Elmore grounded to third, ending the inning.
In 5 1/3 innings, Chen allowed two runs on six hits.
The Orioles (48-49) took a quick 3-0 lead in the first when Chris Davis walked with one out. Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy both singled, and Davis scored. Reimold doubled to score Jones and Hardy.
Joseph hit a two-run home run in the fourth, his seventh of the season off Matt Moore (1-2), and the Orioles led 5-0.
“Any time you can jump up to a five-run lead there [in] the early innings, it always gives them some room for error,” Joseph said.
In the top of the eighth, the Orioles had a chance to add on, Reimold singled, and with two outs, ran past third base coach Bobby Dickerson’s stop sign on Jonathan Schoop’s single.
“It was a mistake. I was thinking, when I saw the ball go in the gap, I was just putting my head down running. By the time I looked up, it was too late. It was a mental lapse. Things like that can’t happen. I’m glad we won because then I’d feel a lot worse if we didn’t win,” Reimold said.
Brad Brach threw a scoreless seventh and Darren O’Day escaped unscathed in the eighth.
Forsythe singled, but was erased on David DeJesus’ double play. Loney singled, but inexplicably tried to take second. Lough’s throw to second was in time.
Zach Britton pitched a hitless ninth, striking out the side, recording his 25th save. It was just his third save opportunity of the month.
“These games are starting to get important, but we can’t put too much emphasis on it where we go in tight and go in and squeezing the bat too hard and gripping the ball too hard. We’ve just got to keep playing our game,” Joseph said.
NOTES: Britton has successfully recorded 21 straight saves. … Reimold had his first three-hit day since Apr. 20, 2012. … The Orioles have a major league-leading 28 outfield assists. … Alex Wood (7-6, 3.78) faces Kevin Gausman (1-2, 5.18) as the Orioles begin a three-game series with Atlanta.
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