BALTIMORE (AP)—Called upon to protect a three-run lead, the Baltimore Orioles’ shaky bullpen got within a strike of completing the task.
Not close enough.
It was the eighth straight loss for the Orioles, yet another in which the bullpen collapsed after Baltimore put itself in position to win.
“You just go out there and battle and try to get outs and get those innings over as quick as possible,” said reliever Chad Bradford, who allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach. “It’s just not working out right now.”
Baltimore led 4-1 in the eighth inning before Tampa Bay rallied a second straight night to win. On Tuesday, the Devil Rays scored 11 eighth-inning runs to rebound from a 6-3 deficit.
Joel Guzman opened the 12th by hitting a chopper to third off Rob Bell (3-3) that Melvin Mora hurriedly grabbed before throwing wildly to first. Guzman ended up on second, and Navarro followed with a single off the right-field scoreboard, producing Tampa Bay’s third unearned run.
“We battled the whole time, got to tie the game in the ninth, then did what we were supposed to,” Navarro said.
By winning the first two games of the three-game series, the Devil Rays are assured their first road series win in 12 tries since June 8-10 at Florida. Tampa Bay was 0-10-1 in that span.
It also marked the first time since July 2004 that the Devil Rays won two straight games in Baltimore. Tampa Bay had dropped its last six series against the Orioles.
“These are the kind of games we need to learn how to win,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Baltimore has given us a lot of problems in the past. It was nice to get these last two games in here.”
Victory seemed unlikely for the Devil Rays after Baltimore starter Steve Trachsel allowed five hits in six innings and left with a 4-1 lead.
Jamie Walker worked a perfect seventh, and Bradford started the eighth by getting B.J. Upton to hit a grounder that shortstop Miguel Tejada misplayed for an error. An RBI double by Harris and a sacrifice fly by Navarro produced two unearned runs, getting the Devil Rays to 4-3.
Danys Baez, who retired the final two batters in the eighth, returned in the ninth. He got the first two outs and got two strikes on Upton before giving up a single. Delmon Young walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Harris tied it with a single to left.
“He was one pitch away from doing it,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Baez.
It was the continuation of a trend that has haunted the Orioles throughout the eight-game losing streak that began with a 30-3 loss to Texas on the day the team announced Trembley would be back in 2008. Baltimore has been outscored 90-32 during the skid, including 65-9 from the sixth through ninth innings.
Aubrey Huff hit a two-run homer in the sixth to put the Orioles up 4-1. He’s batting .373 against his former team this season, and six of his 14 home runs have come against the Devil Rays.
“He eats his Wheaties before he plays us,” Devil Rays starter James Shields said. “He’s a good hitter, and always will be.”
Carl Crawford got two hits for Tampa Bay, giving him 46 in August—most in the majors and a new club record for hits in a month. The old mark was held by Huff, who had 44 hits in August 2002.
The Devil Rays stranded 16 but won anyway.
“We obviously had a lot of opportunities to score runs, but I loved the perseverance of our group,” Maddon said. “That might be the most effort-laden game we’ve played this year. First pitch to last, everyone was into the game.”
Shields gave up four runs and 10 hits in eight innings but is winless in seven career starts against Baltimore.
The Devil Rays got a first-inning run when Crawford doubled and scored on a single by Carlos Pena. Baltimore went up 2-1 in the third when Jay Payton singled, Brian Roberts tripled and Corey Patterson hit an RBI single.
Crawford has 14 multihit games, and 49 hits overall, in his last 29 starts. … Trachsel is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in six starts this month. … Besides his fielding error, Tejada was thrown out at third on a single by Kevin Millar immediately before Huff’s homer.