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Orioles hold off Rays at home

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles starter Jake Arrieta knew he made some mistakes Tuesday against the struggling Tampa Bay Rays and plans to focus on going deeper into games.

But even with those struggles, Arrieta earned his first victory in 10 months, Matt Wieters homered, and the Orioles survived a late rally by the Rays for a 5-4 victory Tuesday night in the series opener at Camden Yards.

The patient Rays forced Arrieta (1-0) to throw 112 pitches in his five-inning outing. However, he still managed to keep the Orioles in the game, allowing just one run on three hits and five walks. He struck out seven. It was Arrieta's first victory since June 13 against Pittsburgh.

"There are still things I can improve on to go deeper into the games," Arrieta said. "I can force contact a little earlier. If I'm in a situation where strikeouts are available, I'm going to go for it. I was just off a tick with certain things. I didn't establish my breaking ball and slider early enough in the game. I tried to force it a little bit here and there, but when I had guys on base with less than two outs, I was able to get some good strikeouts."

Tampa Bay struggled again to get its offense going, finishing 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. However, the bats finally showed some life in the eighth, as homers by Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria off reliever Pedro Strop pulled the Rays within a run.

"I missed two pitches, that was pretty much it," Strop said. "I felt pretty good. I had my sinker in a pretty good location. Before this game tonight, I was locating the ball well. I was feeling good. Tonight, I missed two pitches."

Baltimore's Darren O'Day got the last two outs in the eighth, and closer Jim Johnson picked up his sixth save with a scoreless ninth.

The Rays have won just once in their past eight games, and they have lost three of their past four meetings with Baltimore.

Nate McLouth was instrumental in helping the Orioles manufacture a couple of runs. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and two runs. Nick Markakis went 2-for-3 for the Orioles with an RBI and a run, raising his average to .315.

Tampa Bay starter Roberto Hernandez (0-3) allowed four earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.

"I didn't keep the ball down," Hernandez said. "I feel very good. I continue to work like that ... continue working hard and be ready for next time."

The Orioles loaded the bases in the sixth with no outs while clinging to a 3-1 lead. Longoria's first error of the season gave Baltimore its fourth run when a throw home sailed wide. The Orioles increased the lead to 5-1 on a fielder's-choice grounder by Ryan Flaherty.

The homers by Kelly Johnson and Longoria gave the Rays a glimmer of hope heading into the ninth, but Jim Johnson retired the side in order, helped by nifty defensive plays by shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado.

"I thought it was a great game. I was really pleased with our guys tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Some people might not understand that, but you have to build a little bit at a time to get back where you want to be. I was really pleased with the attitude, the effort, not the results. But that will come. I saw better pitches and better at-bats."

Tampa Bay entered the series last in the American League in batting (.205), slugging (.288), RBIs (33), total bases (108) and hits (77). The Rays had also hit only five homers, one fewer than the Orioles' Chris Davis, who has six.

However, Tampa Bay got off to a good start when Desmond Jennings clobbered Arrieta's first pitch of the game over the left-field fence. It was Jennings' fifth career leadoff homer, with the last coming Aug. 12 at Minnesota.

The Orioles answered in the first when McLouth led off with a walk, stole second and then scored on a double by Machado.

Wieters gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the second with a towering home run to right field. After having runners on base for each of their seven homers to start the season, eight of the Orioles' past nine homers have been solo shots. It was also Wieters' 12th career homer against Tampa Bay -- the most against any opponent.

"It's just a long at-bat and trying to get something I could get the barrel on and the ball was carrying pretty good tonight," Wieters said. "It wasn't (the) best road trip, swinging the bat wise, it was nice to get a hit there."

McLouth was also the catalyst for the Orioles in the third when he led off with a double and then reached third on a passed ball. He then scored the Orioles' third run on an RBI single by Markakis.

NOTES: There was an increased security presence at Orioles Park at Camden Yards one day following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, including bomb-sniffing dogs. Orioles manager Buck Showalter also held a brief team meeting to talk about the enhanced measures and answer any questions. There was a moment of silence for the victims prior to the game. ... Wieters caught Matt Joyce trying to steal second in the second inning, and he now has thrown out four of five attempted base-stealers on the season. ... Both the Orioles and Rays wore the number 42 on the back of their jerseys to honor Jackie Robinson. ... The Rays have still yet to get a hit with the bases loaded this season, going 0-for-11 with two walks.
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