Rays can't take advantage in 8th inning vs. O's

Rays can't take advantage in 8th inning vs. O's

BALTIMORE -- Perched on the brink of claiming a come-from-behind win on Sunday, the Rays found only frustration in the eighth, eventually losing 5-3 in Baltimore.

The Orioles held a one-run lead when manager Buck Showalter sent in Darren O'Day to pitch the eighth.

The submarining right-hander struck out Corey Dickerson and retired Steve Pearce on a fly out to right to start the inning. Brad Miller then stepped to the plate looking for his first hit of the season and came through with a double to right. Steven Souza, Jr. and Kevin Kiermaier then walked to load the bases.

"The way we handled O'Day, he's a very difficult pitcher to face," Rays manager Kevn Cash said. "And to get the bases loaded with some patience, it was good to see."

Cash opted to use switch-hitting Hank Conger as a pinch-hitter for Curt Casali.

"In that situation you're really just trying to get a hit," Conger said. "Get the job done. O'Day is an established pitcher. He knows what he's doing up there."

After missing with a fastball, O'Day got a strike on a 79-mph slider and came back with a slider that caught a lot of the plate on his third pitch.

Conger swung too early and hit a deep foul into the stands along the right-field line.

O'Day has "got that funky arm angle," Conger said. "He doesn't make too many mistakes. So when he does make a mistake you have to really try and hit it. I just happened to be out in front of that one."

Conger fouled off a fastball before swinging and missing at strike three to end the threat.

Everybody in the Rays' dugout knew they had missed a golden opportunity to cash in, particularly with Zach Britton warming in the Orioles' bullpen. If that wasn't enough, the Orioles managed to add a run in the bottom half of the inning when Manny Machado scored from third on a wild pitch from Erasmo Ramirez.

"It was a slider," Conger said. "I was able to square it up and beat the baseball. Once it bounced off my body it just kind of shot off more than I wanted it to."

Britton nails down second save

Machado's run pushed the Orioles' lead to two runs.

"That was a little unfortunate," Cash said. "Getting one is tough enough when you know Britton is coming into the ballgame. We did everything right."

Cash explained that the Rays' infield was shifted with Matt Wieters up to bat when Machado scored. That meant third baseman Evan Longoria was positioned farther toward second base than normal.

"When you're shifted in that position where Longo has to be so far off, it allows Manny to get so far down the baseline and obviously get a better jump on that ball that got away from Conger," Cash said.

Britton came in to pitch the ninth, retiring the Rays in order to preserve the win and pick up his second save of the season.

Cash allowed that the Rays put themselves in some good situations on Sunday, but just couldn't come through.

He added that, unfortunately, "You're talking about O'Day and Brtton, who are pretty elite in this American League East."

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