Early offense, bullpen help lead O's to series win over Rays

Early offense, bullpen help lead O's to series win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Orioles' offense pounced early to fuel a 6-5 win over the Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

After going up 4-0 in the first, with RBI hits from Travis Snider and Adam Jones, the Orioles got busy again in the second. Steve Pearce hit a two-run homer off Rays starter Nathan Karns to extend the lead to 6-0 which was all the runs the O's needed. For Pearce, he now has two home runs in as many games.

The Rays fought back to pull within three of the lead thanks to Logan Forsythe's two-run homer off Wei-Yin Chen in the fourth, but they failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the fifth.

Kevin Kiermaier added a two-run homer in the sixth that made things interesting, pulling the Rays to within one run of tying the game. But that would be the last hit the Rays would get as the O's bullpen retired 10 in a row to end the game.

"You know, at 6-0 nobody thinks the game is over by any chance," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We know [the Rays]. They're going to play hard and keep grinding to it and hats off to them. We were fortunate."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

First-inning thunder: Karns surrendered consecutive singles to Alejandro De Aza, Pearce and Snider to start the game to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Jones then doubled to left-center field to score two. Jones later scored on Manny Machado's sacrifice fly to put the Orioles up 4-0.

Jones' two-run double

Worth the price of a ticket: Rays fans got used to seeing Kiermaier go all out during his rookie season in 2014. The Rays center fielder seems to have another gear when he chases down fly balls, throws lasers, and runs the bases. Once again he put that on display in the third inning when he tripled to left-center field to lead off the third, bringing back memories of triple-specialist Carl Crawford as he motored around the bases. He would score the Rays' first run when Steven Souza Jr. grounded out to second. He added a two-run homer in the sixth on a 96-mph fastball from Kevin Gausman that cut the Orioles' lead to 6-5.

Kiermaier's leadoff triple

Quality at-bat with results: Forsythe worked a quality at-bat against Chen with one out in the fourth. After seeing 10 pitches, the Rays infielder hit the 11th pitch -- a 3-2 fastball -- into the left-field stands to cut the Orioles' lead to 6-3.

Forsythe's two-run tater

Gausman gets out of the jam: After Chen departed with runners on first and second, Gausman issued a two-out, full-count walk to Evan Longoria to load the bases and bring the go-ahead run to the plate.

"If it was later in the season I wouldn't have let him go as far as he did," Showalter said of Chen, who gave up three runs over 4 1/3 innings. "I wanted to get him to 90 [pitches] if I could. I don't play that five innings [is what you have to get a starter to]. He had a lot of opportunities to get the win tonight and he didn't take advantage of them."

Gausman picked up Chen in his season debut, getting Desmond Jennings to pop up to keep the O's lead intact.

He wasn't as fortunate in the following inning, allowing the Rays to score a pair of runs to whittle the lead to one. But he served as a valuable bridge over 2 1/3 innings, with Darren O'Day and Zach Britton recording the final seven outs. More >

Gausman escapes jam

QUOTABLE
"We struck early. We put some runs on the board. I'm glad we did that because we came to a halt. And they made a great comeback and it's just another typical O's-Rays game." -- Pearce, on the win

"It's tough to give a team a four-run lead before we even get an at-bat." -- Karns, on his performance after he gave the Rays 5 2/3 innings after a rough beginning. More >

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Pearce now has five homers over his last 11 games at Tropicana Field. The Lakeland, Fla., native is 14-for-35 with three doubles, nine RBIs and 11 runs scored over that span.

DAVIS DEBUTS

Chris Davis, who finished up a 25-game suspension on Opening Day, went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch in his first game since Sept. 10. Davis batted fifth and was the designated hitter.

"First couple at-bats I was pretty fired up," Davis said. "My adrenaline kind of got the better of me. I was overswinging a little bit. As the game progressed I settled down a little bit, started seeing some pitches and took some better swings and just had better takes. Definitely a little rusty but it felt good to be back in there."

"As Chris will tell you, he had a couple of really good at-bats," Showalter said. "Last at-bat was probably his best at-bat of the night. I feel confident there's good things to come." More >

LONEY SCRATCHED BUT OK

James Loney was a late scratch before the game. The first baseman came up with a sore right side after batting practice, so the Rays opted to keep him on the bench as a precautionary measure.

"I don't think it's that bad," said Loney, noting that he did not think it will result in a trip to the disabled list. "I think it will be better tomorrow. That's the goal, just to feel better. … Just a nagging sort of thing. Don't want to make it worse."

WHAT'S NEXT

Orioles: Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound for the Orioles, with Davis expected to slot in at first base. Manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday afternoon he was still mulling over whether backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway would make his season debut in the series finale at Tropicana Field. The O's will head back to Baltimore for the first time after Wednesday's game.

Rays: Jake Odorizzi will start for the Rays in the series finale. Odorizzi compiled a 2.62 ERA in 17 home starts in 2014, compared to a 6.32 ERA in 14 road starts. That proved to be the largest differential in the Major Leagues last season. He is 0-2 with a 5.48 ERA in five career appearances against the Orioles.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.