St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Steve Pearce and Adam Jones each had two RBI to stake Baltimore to a big early lead, and the Orioles held off the Tampa Bay Rays later on to record a 6-5 victory at Tropicana Field.
Jones delivered a two-run double to highlight an opening inning in which the Orioles scored four times off Nathan Karns, and Pearce belted a two-run homer in the second to help the reigning American League champions to a second straight win in this season-opening series.
Pearce finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Zach Britton notched his first save of 2015 by striking out the side in the ninth.
Kevin Gausman (1-0) received the win with 2 1/3 innings in relief of a shaky Wei-Yin Chen, despite surrendering a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier in the bottom of the sixth that cut the lead to 6-5.
Logan Forsythe also had a two-run shot for Tampa Bay, with Kiermaier going 2- for-4 with two runs scored.
Karns (0-1), bumped up in the Rays' rotation due to spring injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly, overcame his rough beginning to throw 5 2/3 innings.
The lightly experienced right-hander was hit hard early in his sixth career major league start, however, as the Orioles put up three runs before Karns recorded his first out.
After consecutive singles from Alejandro De Aza, Pearce and Travis Snider gave Baltimore a quick 1-0 lead, Jones ripped a double into the gap in left center to knock in two more. He later moved to third when Karns uncorked a wild pitch and crossed the plate on Manny Machado's sacrifice fly.
Pearce made it 6-0 by hammering Karns' curve on an 0-2 count into the seats in left with Caleb Joseph aboard in the second.
"We struck early and put some runs on the board," Pearce said. "It was good we did that because we came to a halt."
Karns didn't allow another hit following Pearce's second homer in as many days, while Chen struggled after beginning his outing with two scoreless innings.
Kiermaier, a late replacement in the lineup with James Loney scratched after tweaking a muscle in his side during batting practice, greeted the lefty with a triple to open the bottom of the third and scored Tampa's initial run on Steven Souza's groundout. An inning later, Evan Longoria singled and Forsythe won an 11-pitch battle by homering to left to bring the Rays within 6-3.
Gausman came on with one out in the fifth and got a big strikeout of Asdrubal Cabrera that helped strand a pair of men in scoring position, but walked Forsythe to begin the bottom of the sixth and served up Kiermaier's two-out blast over the center-field wall that trimmed Baltimore's lead to one.
"We came back against some good pitchers," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Can't complain about (almost) coming back from 6-0."
The Orioles' bullpen held firm thereafter, with Gausman, Darren O'Day and Britton retiring the final nine batters in order to close the game out.
Chen was charged with three runs on four hits and struck out four over 4 1/3 innings.
Baltimore's Chris Davis returned from a 25-game suspension for unauthorized use of Adderall, going 0-for-3 while serving as the designated hitter in the 2013 MLB home run champion's first game since Sept. 10 ... Pearce now has five homers in his last 11 games at Tropicana Field ... Karns has allowed nine long balls in 29 2/3 career innings in the majors ... Snider, acquired in an offseason trade with Pittsburgh, is 4-for-5 with three RBI and three walks in his first two games as an Orioles ... The Rays were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.