Rays fall two back of O's in AL Wild Card race

Rays fall two back of O's in AL Wild Card race

Rays fall two back of O's in AL Wild Card race
BALTIMORE -- Joe Maddon smiled after Tuesday night's 9-2 loss to the Orioles. What else could he do?

"It's in the trash can," said the manager about a game that will not go down as one of the Rays' better efforts this season. "We did not play well at all. We did not pitch well. We didn't play well. We didn't swing the bats. We just had a bad day. Bully for them. It's about winning the series, so we have to come back out tomorrow and play our game."

After losing in the opener, the Rays (77-64) remained two games out of first place in the American League East, as the Yankees lost to the Red Sox, 4-3, and the Orioles moved into a tie for first by virtue of their win.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday night felt like the place it once was when Tampa Bay played as the "Devil Rays" and the Orioles normally came away with the win.

"I appreciate [the energy at Camden Yards Tuesday night]," said former Orioles player Luke Scott. "I'm glad to see it as a fan of the game and as a former player. I played in this city, so I'm glad to see good things happen. But I'm not happy about the loss. I'm concerned about going to the playoffs with the Rays. But at the same time, I'm glad to see good things happen for this team and the guys I played with over there."

A raucous crowd of 23,828 cheered on the home team as the Orioles pounded the visiting Rays, thanks largely to the night J.J. Hardy had.

The Orioles' shortstop went 4-for-5 with two two-run homers, driving in five.

"I got a couple pitches to hit and didn't miss them," Hardy said.

Matt Moore started for the Rays amid reports that he has been tipping his pitches. Whether that served as a distraction, the rookie left-hander did not look sharp from the get-go.

Adam Jones drew a two-out walk from Moore in the first and then scored when Matt Wieters singled to right field and Matt Joyce bobbled the ball before throwing late to the plate.

Ryan Roberts, who left in the seventh inning because of an injured left forearm, tied the game in the third with a homer off former Rays pitcher Jason Hammel. But the Orioles quickly got to Moore again.

Robert Andino doubled to open the Orioles' third, and one out later, he scored when Hardy hit his 20th home run of the season to put Baltimore up, 3-1.

Hammel, who had right knee surgery in July, had to leave the game with two outs in the fourth because of an injury to the same knee. Rookie Steve Johnson took over and held the Rays scoreless over the next 1 1/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Moore got an early hook after four innings, giving way to Burke Badenhop.

"It was nice to see [Moore] get out of there early," Hardy said.

Moore's four-inning stint was a career low. Entering Tuesday night's start, he had allowed just two earned runs in his three career starts against the Orioles.

"I didn't throw in the zone enough," Moore said. "I didn't make enough adjustments consistently to get a clean inning. I think the second was pretty clean, I felt good then. And from then on, it was inconsistency of staying on top of the adjustments."

While Moore admitted to thinking about tipping his pitches "at times," he just as quickly added, "but not really."

"It was mostly one of those things you work on on the sideline, and then whenever I get out there for the game, go with what's going to come out," Moore said.

Hardy greeted Badenhop, who had not pitched in nine days, with a double, and Jones followed with a single before Wieters doubled to right to drive home both runners, giving the Orioles a 5-1 lead.

Hardy singled to left off Cesar Ramos with two outs in the sixth to plate Nate McLouth. One inning later, Chris Davis added a solo home run off J.P. Howell to push Baltimore's lead to 7-1.

Elliot Johnson hit a solo home run off Darren O'Day in the eighth to account for the Rays' second and final run. Hardy then added his second homer of the game in the O's half of the eighth to account for the final runs.

Maddon noted that it had been awhile since he had seen Camden Yards so alive.

"Back in the day in the mid-90s, you'd come in here and it was always raucous," Maddon said. "They had so many good teams back then, so it was always like this -- even more so. It's good. It's good for the city. It's good for the organization. And honestly, I'm very happy for them. I love the competition. We've got to come out and play our game tomorrow."

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