ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier's two-run homer paved the way for a 3-1 Rays win over the Orioles on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Kiermaier, who made an acrobatic run-into-the-wall catch in the first, was scuffling on offense. He'd popped out and grounded out in his previous two at-bats against Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez when he stepped to the plate with two outs in the sixth and a runner aboard. After falling behind 0-2, he connected on Jimenez's third pitch and deposited the ball into the right-field stands to give him his third home run of the season and the Rays a 3-1 lead.
"KK comes up with the huge hit to separate the game," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "... Credit KK, I don't think he was seeing the ball that well early on."
Desmond Jennings gave the Rays a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the third. After extending his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the second, Mark Trumbo answered with an RBI single in the fourth off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi that tied the score.
"I think the key to the game was them, defensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of his club's fourth loss in five games. "We hit four balls on the button that they defended. That's a tribute to them. Would have liked to create a couple opportunities we could cash in on."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dodging trouble: Odorizzi had struggled in the early parts of games this season, allowing a total of nine runs in the first and second innings of his previous four starts. The second inning looked like more of the same when Trumbo singled to center with one out and J.J. Hardy followed with a double to left. Would Odorizzi's early-inning troubles continue? Not Tuesday night. He struck out Pedro Alvarez then retired Jonathan Schoop on a flyout to center to end the inning. Odorizzi allowed just one run in five innings while earning a no-decision.
"It's really about making one pitch at the big time," Odorizzi said. "That's kind of how I look at it. When you don't feel good, you just have to reach down and make a pitch when it matters. I was fortunate to do that tonight, and that's all I can ask for, really."
Jimenez's big mistake: The O's righty, who has probably been the team's best starter among an underachieving rotation, took the mound in the sixth having allowed just one run. But with two outs and an 0-2 count, just one strike shy of escaping, Jimenez surrendered a fateful two-run shot to Kiermaier. Still, Jimenez gave the Orioles their first quality start in five games.
"I only gave up one run with the bases loaded. That's not a big deal, one run. We came back to tie the game. After I was able to throw the breaking ball and all of my pitches in the strike zone, I was able to get comfortable," Jimenez said. "I made one mistake."
Longoria's stellar defense: The Orioles had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth and appeared to have Odorizzi on the ropes. That's when Evan Longoria stepped forward to flash the leather. Caleb Joseph pulled a ball that appeared as though it would get between third and short, but Longoria came up with the ball and threw a strike to Logan Forsythe to complete the inning-ending double play and keep the score tied at 1. More >
Baltimore's bats stay cold: A club that snapped its 20-inning scoreless streak in the fourth still couldn't really get going. After loading the bases on Odorizzi, following Trumbo's RBI, Schoop popped up and Joseph hit into a double play to squander a major opportunity.
"They turned quite a few double plays that I wasn't sure they were going to turn," Joseph said. "They've got a good defense there. We've just got to keep squaring them up. We had what, nine hits today? We just need to rattle some of those together. We had a good opportunity in the fourth inning and just couldn't push them across, so we have to do that. When we get a pitcher on the ropes like that, we really have to be able to make it hurt, and tonight we let him off the hook." More >
"The center fielder [Kiermaier] ran down a ball most people don't. Manny [Machado] hit a ball on the button to the right fielder. They turned some double plays that not everybody does." -- Showalter, on the Rays' defense
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Enny Romero recorded his first Major League win after tossing a scoreless sixth, allowing one hit and striking out one. He told reporters he planned to give the ball to his mother.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles:Chris Tillman will take the mound in the series finale on Wednesday night at 7:10 ET. He is 6-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 21 games against Tampa Bay, but he does own a 2.93 ERA in nine games at Tropicana Field.
Rays:Matt Moore starts for the Rays, bringing into the contest a 4-4 mark with a 3.83 ERA in 10 career appearances against the Orioles. The last time Moore pitched at Tropicana Field, he struck out 10.