Devil Rays 4, Orioles 2
Wigginton helped Tampa Bay snap a season-high, nine-game losing streak, hitting a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth inning of a 4-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.
“I just appreciate the way he is … he comes to play every day,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He loves to play baseball. He’s the kind of a guy you need on a team to win. He’s a winner. He’s truly the kind of guy any manager in baseball would like to have as part of their group.”
The Devil Rays (58-94) need win six of their final 10 games to avoid their fifth 99-loss season in the team’s nine-year history. They lost 100 or more twice.
“It feels good,” Wigginton said. “I want to come up in those situations. I don’t mind being the goat if I don’t come through. It’s all part of it.”
Seth McClung (6-12) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win.
Chris Gomez pulled the Orioles even at 2 in the top of the eighth with an RBI-single off Jae Seo. The Tampa Bay starter, who allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings, is 0-1 with seven no-decisions in eight starts since July 29.
Wigginton and Jorge Cantu opened the seventh with singles off Hayden Penn, who had given up one run and one hit through six innings. After Kevin Witt struck out, Dioner Navarro singled to load the bases.
Tomas Perez, mired in a 9-for-62 slide, popped out. Rocco Baldelli then gave the Devil Rays a 2-1 lead with an infield single that went off the glove of a diving Gomez at third. Lopez, who leads the majors in losses, replaced Penn and got an inning-ending grounder from Delmon Young to keep Baltimore within one run.
“Sometimes I can’t believe what’s going on right now,” Lopez said. “I guess it’s just part of the game. It’s still frustrating, but I’m going to keep trying and trying. I know I’m better than that.”
Penn gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He had allowed 22 runs and 24 hits over 7 1-3 innings in his previous three starts this season. The right-hander’s longest outing during that stretch was 3 2-3 innings.
“As rough a time as he had the first three times out, it was just a matter of him relaxing a little bit,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “Somehow you’ve got to get through a couple innings and you get your confidence up and feel good about yourself and I thought he did that.”
Penn said the outing was something he can build off.
“We didn’t get the win, but it’s an improvement,” he said.
Carl Crawford got the Devil Rays’ first hit, a homer with one out in the fourth that tied it at 1. Corey Patterson tripled and scored on David Newhan’s sacrifice fly to put the Orioles up 1-0 in the third.
Tampa Bay third baseman B.J. Upton and shortstop Perez teamed up for an outstanding defensive play with one out in the ninth. With Miguel Tejada on first, Upton dived to his left to field Kevin Millar’s grounder. While on his stomach, Upton flipped the ball to Perez, who threw out Millar at first.
McClung then got a game-ending grounder from Patterson.
“That play by B.J. and Tomas was outstanding,” Maddon said. “We did some really good things today.”
A year ago Wednesday, Orioles 2B Brian Roberts dislocated his left elbow and tore a tendon and ligament in a collision with Bubba Crosby of the New York Yankees while covering first base. Roberts is hitting .290 in 129 games this season. “I give all the credit in the world to him,” Perlozzo said. “To me, that’s been a pretty amazing feat for him, to still play up to the level that he’s played.” … Gomez has a 13-game hitting streak.