The Orioles have no need for such talk. Their motivation for winning is purely selfish.
Baltimore took two of three from the Rays, who remained 2 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. It was only the second time in 14 tries that the Orioles won the finale to take a three-game series.
“Spoiler or anything, we’re going out there looking to win some games,” said Nick Markakis(notes), who had two hits and two RBIs. “That’s the main objective here, and I think we’re on the right path.”
Baltimore improved to 19-13 under manager Buck Showalter, who wasn’t impressed in the least to learn the Orioles hadn’t won a series from Tampa Bay since April 2009.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of those dates,” he said. “Hopefully we get them out of the way.”
And what of being a spoiler?
“I like to think more along the terms of what’s best for the Baltimore Orioles, and if (being a spoiler) happens as a result … the priority is the first part,” Showalter said. “It shouldn’t matter whether or not somebody’s in it or not in it.”
The Rays now move on to Boston, confident that the lapse at Camden Yards won’t have a lasting effect.
“I hope not, I really hope not,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I just want us to focus on the day. This one is over. Go on to the next one.”
After Tampa Bay used two-run drives by Longoria and Upton to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning, Baltimore scored four runs in the bottom half against three Rays relievers.
Dan Wheeler(notes) (2-2) issued successive one-out walks before Chad Qualls(notes) gave up RBI singles to Josh Bell(notes), Brian Roberts(notes) and Markakis. Luke Scott(notes) added a sacrifice fly off Randy Choate(notes).
“You walk guys, good things don’t happen,” Wheeler said. “We come back like that and take the lead, as a bullpen guy you pride yourself on keeping the lead. It just didn’t happen.”
Baldelli hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer off Mike Gonzalez in the seventh to make it 8-7.
The drive came in his first at-bat for Tampa Bay since 2008.
“It was one of the nicest homers I’ve ever hit,” Baldelli said. “It was nice to get back in there, it really was. I waited a long time for it. But I would have taken a strikeout if we won the game, to be honest with you.”
Orioles starter Chris Tillman(notes) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. Recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game, Tillman retired the side in order only once and was aided by two double plays.
After Tampa Bay wasted a two-out triple by Carl Crawford(notes) in the top of the first, Baltimore took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half. Brian Roberts walked and was caught leaning toward second when Davis threw wildly on a pickoff attempt. Roberts ended up on third and scored on a single by Markakis, who advanced on two walks and came home on a sacrifice fly by Patterson.
Zobrist ended a 1-for-15 slide in the third with his eighth home run. In the Baltimore half, Felix Pie(notes) walked and Patterson hit a high fly to right that cleared the 25-foot scoreboard for a 4-1 lead.
In the Tampa Bay fourth, Joyce hit a triple and Upton drew a two-out walk before Roberts made a sensational diving catch of a liner to second base that appeared destined to make it to the outfield.
Notes: Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch to mark the 15th anniversary of the day he tied Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. … Tillman has yielded 20 homers in his career, 16 of them solo shots. … Davis’ errant pickoff throw ended a run of 10 straight errorless games by the Rays. … Qualls’ run of six straight scoreless outings ended.