ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David DeJesus led off the game and nearly seven hours later ended it, knocking in the winning run with one out in the 18th inning on Friday night as the Tampa Bay Rays won a marathon with the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 at Tropicana Field.
Desmond Jennings began the decisive rally with a one-out double into the left-field corner against Bud Norris. The Rays hadn't reached second base since the 14th inning. Yunel Escobar followed with a walk before DeJesus lined an 0-1 pitch to right center.
It was the longest game in Rays and Orioles history by time (6 hours, 54 minutes) and for Tampa Bay in innings. The 21 pitchers used collectively set a major league record. The 11 used by the Rays tied the major league mark.
Jeremy Hellickson picked up the win in 2 1/3 innings of relief.
It was a painful loss for Baltimore on several levels. The Orioles, statistically the most sure-handed team in baseball history at this point of the season, gave up one run on a first-inning error and another when one of the most plodding runners in the American League helped manufacture a run in the second.
Tampa Bay (84-69) held onto a share of the top wild card spot in the American League and Baltimore (81-72) saw its postseason route get more difficult, falling three games behind the Rays and Cleveland (84-70).
Baltimore fought back from a three-run deficit to score twice for a 4-3 lead in the seventh. Reliever Jake McGee walked Brian Roberts and then hit Manny Machado to spark the rally and Adam Jones followed with double off Alex Torres to tie game 3-3. Danny Valencia's one-out sacrifice flyout to center scored Machado for a 4-3 lead.
Tampa Bay tied the score 4-4 in the bottom of the inning as Yunel Escobar singled leading off, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Ben Zobrist single against Kevin Gausman. The Orioles bullpen had logged 20 scoreless innings during six games on the current road trip.
Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Orioles starter Jason Hammel, who was in position to escape with one run allowed if not for a costly error by first baseman Chris Davis. The Rays took a 1-0 lead when David DeJesus and Zobrist began the game with consecutive doubles. Hammel allowed a single to Evan Longoria that sent Zobrist to third, but retired Wil Myers on a pop and then induced a hard grounder from Matt Joyce right at Davis. The ball trickled under Davis' glove, however, for a 2-0 Rays lead.
Tampa Bay took a 3-0 with behind two uncharacteristically brazen base-running plays from slow-footed Jose Molina. The catcher legged out a double into the left field corner leading off, and to the surprise of most, advanced to third on a flyout to right by Escobar. He received a standing ovation upon scoring on a DeJesus sacrifice flyout to left.
David Price worked into and out of a potential game-changing jam in the fifth when the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs but managed just one run. After a Michael Morse walk and singles by Roberts and Machado loaded the bases, Jones chopped a ball to third base that Longoria failed to bare-hand, cutting the margin to 3-1. But Price snuffed American League home run leader Davis on a called third strike and Valencia hit into an inning-ending double play on the next pitch.
Baltimore broke through to cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth, as Matt Wieters led off with a double against Price and scored off reliever Jamey Wright on a Nick Markakis groundout.
Price allowed two earned runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Hammel allowed two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
NOTES: Jennings was scratched from the starting lineup 15 minutes before the first pitch because of neck stiffness. ... Rays RHP Jesse Crain made an instructional league appearance and could be activated as early as Saturday. ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter shuffled his struggling lineup for Friday night, inserting Machado in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, Jones in the second hole for the first time since 2011 and Valencia batting fourth for the first time as an Oriole. ... Texas would host the Rays in the wild-card game if they tie for the top spot after winning the season series by virtue of a victory on Thursday. Tampa Bay currently holds the tiebreaker against other potential wild-card opponents Baltimore and Cleveland. ... The Orioles (46) and Rays (55) entered with the lowest error totals in major league history and are on pace to break the 2003 Mariners' 162-game record of 65.