ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Through seven innings, the Orioles had just two hits. Their playoff hopes were nearly over.
But, then, the Orioles woke up against Alex Colome and came away with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 9.617 at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.
Matt Moore, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, had pitched masterfully and held a 3-0 lead.
A half-inning later, the Orioles scored four runs, and they managed to creep closer to the Houston Astros, who they trail by 4 ½ games.
“It felt like a W all the way right?” manager Buck Showalter said.
Colome (6-5) allowed a leadoff single to Jonathan Schoop, then got two outs. Gerardo Parra singled Schoop, who had gone to second on a wild pitch to third.
Steve Clevenger’s RBI single scored Schoop with the first run. Manny Machado’s single scored Parra with the second. After Colome’s wild pitch, Chris Davis was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Adam Jones singled to right, bringing pinchrunner Ryan Flaherty and Machado home, and the Orioles (72-74) led 4-3.
“Somebody's going to succeed, one of the two. Good thing it was me today,” Jones said.
Chaz Roe (4-2) retired four batters for the win. Brad Brach pitched a scoreless eighth, and with Zach Britton unavailable, Darren O’Day worked the ninth for his third save.
The Orioles have seven wins in nine games and are 4 ½ games behind Houston for the second wild card. The Astros lost four straight to Texas.
Showalter knows how important these games are, and this game was a big one.
“Obviously mathematically it is. Opportunities are the games you play, two, three hours, four hours. That’s your opportunity and you don’t have 100 more. You have, X number left. Our guys are aware of what each game means,” Showalter said.
Chris Tillman pitched one of his better games this season, and truly had nothing to show for it. Tillman allowed three strange runs.
In the third inning, John Jaso hit a home run that got stuck in a catwalk in right field. It was just the fifth ball in the history of the ballpark, which has hosted the Rays since 1998, that couldn’t be dislodged.
Jones prevented Tampa Bay (70-76) from adding on in the fourth when he made a diving catch on Kevin Kiermaier’s sinking liner in center with two on.
“Huge, huge. Runners on base, he made a great play. I think he made two or three great plays tonight. I think those ones where he goes back, people don’t really notice that. He’s one of the best in the game at that. That’s why,” Tillman said.
Tillman got the first two outs of the sixth before James Loney doubled. Steven Souza walked, and Matt Wieters tried to pick off Souza. The throw was errant, and Loney took third on Wieters’ error.
Tim Beckham singled off Tillman’s glove, scoring Loney. Kiermaier’s infield single off Brian Matusz scored Souza, and Tampa Bay led 3-0.
Tillman allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“Tilly was good, he gives up the deflection off him and Brian gave up the swinging bunt, that was really deflating, a lot of guys would have pulled the dirt in around them at that point but our guys didn’t they came right back at them,” Showalter said.
Tillman has not won in his last six starts.
Moore retired the first nine Orioles before Nolan Reimold led off the fourth with a double. Schoop singled in the sixth with one out.
Moore allowed no more baserunners. In seven innings, he gave up just the two hits and didn’t walk any.
He entered the game with an 8.42 ERA and hadn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his previous eight starts.
O’Day was pitching for the fourth time in five nights. Showalter decided Zach Britton needed a second straight day off.
“I had an idea, thought Zach might have another day off. You never now what Buck is going to do. I thought I might pitch the ninth. I stretched a half-inning later, if that’s relevant,” O’Day said.
The Orioles must catch not only Houston, but Minnesota, Los Angeles and Cleveland, too.
Jones isn’t doing any scoreboard watching.
“We’ve got to take care of our own business. You can't clean everybody else's house when your house is dirty,” Jones said.
NOTES: David Ortiz hit the last ball to get stuck in the catwalk exactly seven years ago. … Schoop has a career long 10-game hitting streak. … Tyler Wilson (2-1, 1.29) faces Drew Smyly (2-2, 3.14) on Friday night. … Reading beat Bowie 9-3 at Prince George’s Stadium. The Baysox trail 2-1 in the Eastern League finals.
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