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Orioles pull off road sweep against Rays

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Thursday night was marked by missed opportunities for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Orioles, meanwhile, capitalized on their chance to complete a rare three-game sweep at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles beat the Rays 3-1 as Tampa Bay (15-20) went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, suffering its first sweep of three games or more at home since June 12-14, 2012.

En route to its first road sweep at Tropicana Field since April 2011, Baltimore (18-14) scored three early runs off Tampa Bay starter David Price (3-3) and wriggled out of a few jams, eventually escaping with the club's first three-game series sweep overall since July 19-21 at Texas.

"They had some opportunities they squandered," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We certainly did, too, but the bullpen was good tonight."

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4) turned in a solid start for the Orioles, allowing one run, seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. He narrowly escaped a big inning in the fifth, when the Rays loaded the bases with one out for Evan Longoria. But the Rays' star third baseman bounced into an inning-ending double play that was confirmed after a two-minute instant-replay review prompted by Rays manager Joe Maddon.

"Just not getting it done. That's the bottom line," Longoria said. "For lack of a better term, it sucks."

It would not turn out to be the last missed opportunity for Tampa Bay, but it was perhaps the most significant.

"It was huge," Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce said. "The bases were loaded, and if that ball got past me, it could have cleared the bases."

Orioles reliever Ryan Webb found himself with runners on second and third base with two outs in the sixth, but he got pinch-hitter Ryan Hanigan to ground out to Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy to end the inning.

Still, was not the last time the Rays threatened to make it interesting.

In the seventh, Tampa Bay drew two walks, but Webb struck out Longoria before lefty reliever forced first baseman James Loney, a dangerous late-game hitter, to fly out to Adam Jones in center field.

The Rays rallied once again in the ninth, leading off the inning with two hits against reliever Darren O'Day. But center fielder Desmond Jennings grounded into a double play and left fielder Matt Joyce bounced out as O'Day picked up his second save of the season.

"Had opportunities all over the place tonight. Had the right guys up there," Maddon said. "It just did not want to play out for us."

The Rays jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run in the first against Jimenez. Jennings reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, took third on Joyce's flyout and scored on Longoria's two-out single to right.

After getting two quick outs in the second, Price gave up a double to Hardy. Pearce then worked a full count and crushed a 94 mph fastball into the left-field stands for his second homer of the year, putting the Orioles ahead by a run.

Baltimore added to its lead in the fourth, when Pearce and second baseman Jonathan Schoop put together back-to-back two-out singles off Price to drive in Jones.

Price exited the game after loading the bases with no outs in the sixth. The seemingly impossible jam fell to right-hander Brad Boxberger, who left the Orioles with a memorable missed opportunity of their own.

Boxberger struck out Pearce, Schoop and catcher Caleb Joseph on nine pitches to get out of the inning unscathed. Although their pitch count records are incomplete, the Elias Sports Bureau has no record of any other major league pitcher ever entering a game with the bases loaded and immediately striking out the side on nine pitches.

"If I ever leave the game with runners on, Box is the guy I want to come in. That was incredible," Price said. "That could be a part of history, and I really appreciate it."

NOTES: Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey was ejected by home-plate umpire Marty Foster after the top of the first inning for arguing a checked-swing call on CF Adam Jones. ... With a third-inning single, Orioles OF Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 15 games. ... Orioles 1B Chris Davis (left oblique strain) is expected to take pregame batting practice on Friday. He likely will need a brief minor league rehabilitation assignment before rejoining the Orioles. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb (left oblique strain) is scheduled to pitch a three-inning simulated game on Friday, his first time facing hitters since being placed on the disabled list on April 13. ... RHP Dylan Bundy, the top prospect recovering from Tommy John surgery last June, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and will face hitters for the first time in nearly a year on Tuesday. ... The Rays will remain home on Friday to kick off a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. RHP Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 6.83 ERA) is scheduled to start against Indians RHP Corey Kluber (2-3, 3.60). ... The Orioles head to Camden Yards to begin a three-game series against the Astros starting Friday, when LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.24 ERA) takes on Astros RHP Scott Feldman (2-1, 1.69).
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