Karns begins case for starter spot in Grapefruit opener

Righty tosses two scoreless; Butler homers, hits RBI double

Karns begins case for starter spot in Grapefruit opener

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Orioles topped the Rays, 3-2, on Thursday afternoon as Tampa Bay kicked off its Grapefruit League season at Charlotte Sports Park.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when the Rays' Corey Brown tripled and then scored on Joey Butler's double.

The Orioles responded in the eighth, as David Lough reached on a throwing error by shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and tallied two batters later on a Rey Navarro single. The O's added two more in the ninth, the first on a Michael Almanzar solo shot and the second on a sac fly from Mike Yastrzemski.

Butler struck again with a homer in the bottom of the ninth to draw the Rays within one.

Nathan Karns started for the Rays and looked sharp in his first outing of the spring. The right-hander allowed no runs, a walk and a hit, and he struck out one in two innings.

"I mixed it up -- fastball, curveball, changup," Karns said. "There were a lot of lefties out there, so I really tried to work that changeup in there."

Karns, who is competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, received a boost from his fielders.

In the first, Evan Longoria caught a pop fly and threw to first to double off Everth Cabrera for the third out. After surrendering a single to Jimmy Paredes in the second, Curt Casali threw out Paredes trying to steal second for the second out of the inning.

The Rays' defensive display continued in the third, when Chris Parmelee doubled to left off Kevin Jepsen to lead off the third. The ball ricochetted to Kevin Kiermaier, and the Rays' center fielder threw a strike to third for the first out of the inning.

Wei-Yin Chen started for the Orioles and surrendered an opposite-field double to John Jaso in the first inning, but recovered to retire Longoria on a groundout to end the threat.

Chen, who will pitch in the second or third spot in the Orioles' rotation, allowed no runs on one hit and struck out one in two innings of work.

Rays Up Next: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi will make his first start of the season when the Rays host the Twins Friday afternoon in a 1:05 contest at Charlotte Sports Park. Also expected to see action are right-handers Matt Andriese, Burch Smith, Ernesto Frieri, Brandon Gomes, and Kirby Yates along with left-handers Jordan Norberto and Mike Montgomery. Listen to the game for free on an exclusive webcast.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.