Orioles take three of four from Rays
Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - J.J. Hardy broke a tie game with an RBI single in the seventh inning and the Baltimore Orioles held on to top the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, in the finale of a four-game AL East series.
Baltimore bounced back from a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs over the weekend by taking three of four from their division rivals.
Steve Pearce hit a solo homer for the first-place Orioles, who extended their lead to seven games over the Yankees.
"To take three out of four was big. I think we're playing really good ball," Hardy said.
Andrew Miller (4-5) pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win behind Bud Norris, while Kirby Yates (0-2) was saddled with the loss.
Yates retired the first two hitters in the seventh before surrendering a double to Nelson Cruz. After Chris Davis was intentionally walked, Hardy fisted an opposite-field single to right, and Cruz scored without a throw.
Miller pitched a perfect eighth and Zach Britton did the same in the ninth to collect his 29th save.
Evan Longoria homered and drove in two of Tampa Bay's runs.
"We uncharacteristically gave this game up on defense tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Both teams pushed two across in the first inning. Desmond Jennings doubled and scored on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly, and Longoria belted a solo homer just over the wall in left in the top half.
Pearce countered with a home run off Jeremy Hellickson, and a successful double steal from Cruz and Adam Jones resulted in Baltimore's second run. With one out, Cruz took off for second and got himself into a rundown as Jones broke for the plate. Jose Molina dropped Yunel Escobar's throw in what could have been a close play at the plate, and Jones slid in safely.
The clubs again traded a pair of runs in the fifth. Longoria plated Ben Zobrist with a sac fly, and James Loney doubled home Joyce.
The Rays nearly got out of a bases-loaded jam in the home half when Jeff Beliveau got Davis to hit one sharply to first. The second out was made at second base, but Escobar's off-balanced throw back to first sailed high and two runs came around.
The Orioles have not lost consecutive home games since June 28-29 ... Tampa Bay was 9-1-0 in its previous 10 road series ... Pearce has hit safely in a career-high 11 straight games ... Norris allowed four runs on six hits over six frames ... Hellickson was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings ... Baltimore leads the season series, 11-5.
08/29 01:43:32 ET