ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The normally reliable Darren O’Day had a most unusual inning. For the first time in nearly two years, he allowed three hits, and in a shocking turnaround, the Orioles went from holding a tight one-run lead to a three-run loss.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-1 win over the Orioles before 17,838 at Tropicana Field was disheartening because for the second straight start, Chris Tillman was nearly unhittable.
Tillman took a 1-0 lead into the eighth. After allowing just one hit and retiring the final 23 batters in a row last Saturday, Tillman gave up just two hits in seven innings.
After walking the leadoff batter in the eighth, Kevin Kiermaier, he was out of the game, and O’Day, who allowed two hits in just three of his previous 36 appearances, had his roughest inning of an All-Star season.
“He’s so much better than tonight. He gets many mulligans with us,” manager Buck Showalter said.
O’Day’s ERA rose from 1.04 to 1.51.
Joey Butler flied to center, and Kiermaier stole second. Steven Souza struck out, and John Jason singled to right-center, scoring Kiermaier.
Evan Longoria’s single to shallow center put runners on first and third and James Loney was walked intentionally.
Tim Beckham’s single to center hopped off the front of the mound and drove in Jaso and Longoria, and suddenly it was 3-1.
"I made some good pitches. Made a couple really bad pitches. The one to Jaso was pretty bad and the one to Beckham, 0-2, I have to be better than that. Can't leave anything close to the zone where he can win the game like that. Longoria didn't hit the ball hard, but he did his job. He got his bat on the ball with two strikes and extended the inning,” O’Day said.
The Orioles (46-49) have lost four straight and 15 of 20, and for the seventh time in the last eight games, scored three runs or fewer.
“The story is we just haven’t scored any runs,” Showalter said.
The Orioles had a 1-0 lead and Tillman looked to be on the way to his sixth straight win.
Tillman became the first Orioles pitcher since Matt Riley in 2004 with consecutive starts of seven innings, one run and two hits.
“I’m just executing better and when I do get in trouble I’m able to make a pitch to get out of it. It’s been there for a while now, just kind of carried over from the last couple starts from the first half and we are taking advantage of it,” Tillman said.
Manny Machado, who batted third for the first time in his major league career, had two singles, a walk and was hit by a pitch. He scored the Orioles’ only run in the fourth on Chris Davis’ double.
“We’re just a couple of hits away. We’re just a couple of innings away. We’ve just got to clean it up. It’s just part of the game, it’s part of the grind that we’ve got to get. This is where champions are made right here,” Machado said.
Alex Colome (4-4) got the win for Tampa Bay (49-49) with a scoreless eighth. Jake McGee got his fifth save.
Machado was hit in the left shoulder by Colome in the eighth. He yelled at Colome that the pitch was too close to his head. Colome wagged his finger, saying “no, no, no” to Machado.
Home plate umpire John Tumpane, a fill-in from Triple-A, warned both benches because Beckham had been hit an inning earlier by Tillman.
“I just saw the ball up and in. Nobody likes to get thrown at at the head, but it wasn’t intentional like I said. It’s just part of the game. I’ve got to go out there and take a hit by pitch, go to first base like I did and just move on,” Machado said.
Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer allowed a run on five hits in six innings, striking out nine.
The Orioles remain seven games behind in the American League East, and their clubhouse was perhaps the quietest all season.
Asked to assess the clubhouse’s mood, O’Day said: “Look around.”
Tillman said his teammates’ mood won’t change, said the team will stay upbeat.
“Clubhouse is fine. I’ve never seen it change, win or lose, rain or shine it’s always the same. We got a lot of veteran guys in there that do the job and that’s what’s going on now as well. We are not playing bad baseball. We just aren’t getting the timely hits and timely pitches,” Tillman said.
The one-run losses shouldn’t eat at the Orioles.
“You’d rather be in a close game than a blowout,” Tillman said.
COMING UP: Miguel Gonzalez (8-6, 4.21) faces Erasmo Ramirez (8-3, 3.54) on Saturday at 6:10 p.m.