Jake Arrieta struck out seven over five-plus innings of one-run ball, as the Baltimore Orioles held off the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, in the opener of a three-game set Tuesday at Camden Yards.
Arrieta (1-0) allowed three hits and walked five to earn his first victory since June 13 of last season. Reliever Pedro Strop gave up three runs on a pair of homers in the eighth to make it interesting, but closer Jim Johnson retired the Rays in order in the ninth to nail down his sixth save of the season.
Matt Wieters smacked a solo home run and Nick Markakis collected two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the O's, who have won two of their last three.
"He battled," Wieters said of Arrieta. "He didn't have his best command, but he was still able to pound the zone enough to be able to make some pitches when he needed to."
Evan Longoria launched a two-run homer, while Kelly Johnson and Desmond Jennings each added a solo shot in the setback, Tampa Bay's fourth in a row.
Rays starter Roberto Hernandez (0-3) was tagged for five runs -- three earned -- on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.
Jennings belted Arrieta's first offering over the wall in left field to give the Rays the early lead, but the O's answered in the bottom half when Nate McLouth worked a leadoff walk, stole second and easily crossed home on Manny Machado's double to right-center field to make it a 1-1 game.
Wieters put the Orioles in front in the second when he clubbed a leadoff blast that hit the top of the wall in right field before bouncing into the stands to give the home team a 2-1 edge.
Baltimore tacked on a run in the third on Markakis' RBI single before adding two more in the sixth to make it a 5-1 game.
After Markakis worked a leadoff walk to start the sixth, Adam Jones doubled and Chris Davis was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Hernandez then fanned Wieters before getting J.J. Hardy to ground weakly to third, but Longoria's throw to the plate was off the mark, allowing Markakis to score from third for a 4-1 lead.
Ryan Flaherty followed with an RBI groundout off Jamey Wright to give the O's a four-run advantage.
Tampa Bay's stagnant offense finally came to life in the eighth against Strop, as Johnson stroked a leadoff homer and after Ben Zobrist worked a walk, Longoria launched his second homer of the season over the left-field wall to bring the Rays within 5-4.
The visitors would get no closer however, as Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day combined to blank the Rays over the rest of the eighth before Johnson induced three straight groundouts in the ninth to secure the victory for the Orioles.
"I was really pleased with the attitude, the effort," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Not the results, but that will come."
The Rays went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and are now 1-for- their-last-34 ... Hernandez allowed four runs over 6 2/3 frames in a loss to the Orioles on April 4 ... Tampa Bay's 4-9 start matches the franchise record for worst start in club history (2001, 2005) ... The Orioles have won a franchise-record 97 straight regular season games when leading after seven innings, trying them with the 2002-03 Atlanta Braves for the second longest streak for any club during the expansion era. The 1998-99 New York Yankees own the all-time mark at 116 games.