Baltimore, MD – David Price didn't put forth a vintage performance, but one still good enough to help the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles with a 4-3 win at Camden Yards.
Working out of several jams, the reigning AL Cy Young Award recipient held the Orioles to two runs despite surrendering 10 hits over a stressful five innings. The effort improved Price (7-5) to 6-1 in 10 starts since returning from the disabled list on July 2.
"They're tough. They're fighting for after-September baseball just as we are," Price said of the Orioles. "That's an extremely tough team, but we made some pitches when we needed to. I had some hard hit balls at some guys. You have to have that fortune sometimes."
Jake McGee and Fernando Rodney combined for 2 1/3 scoreless frames to protect the one-run lead, with Rodney finishing out the ninth for his 28th save.
Baltimore squandered opportunities all evening long en route to their fifth loss in seven games. The Orioles recorded 15 hits, including three each from Matt Wieters, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy, but left 15 men on base.
"We had men on base and created opportunities. We just weren't able to get that big hit," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "Just imagine if we had none and left nobody on base, then we'd really be getting cussed out."
The Rays made better use of their chances, getting a two-run homer from Matt Joyce and a solo blast out of Evan Longoria that helped deny Chris Tillman his 15th victory of the season. Both players finished with two hits in the triumph, Tampa Bay's fifth in six outings.
Tillman (14-4) served up both homers and was reached for four runs in six innings. Three of his four defeats this season have come at the hands of the Rays.
Wieters homered and drove in two runs for Baltimore, while Valencia went 3- for-4 with an RBI double.
Joyce snapped a 2-2 tie in the top of the fourth inning by following a walk to Yunel Escobar with a long drive over the scoreboard in right field. However, Price nearly allowed the Orioles to close the gap in the bottom of the frame.
Valencia and Steve Pearce began Baltimore's half of the fourth with singles and a flyout placed runners at the corners with just one out. Price was able to bear down, however, and strike out All-Stars Manny Machado and Chris Davis to keep it a 4-2 game.
The Orioles threatened once more in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk to Valencia, but again came away empty when Pearce bounced into a force play.
Baltimore did get back a run in the seventh, when Wieters took Joel Peralta deep for his 18th homer of the season. Valencia and Pearce each singled later in the inning to bring the tying run to third with two out, but McGee came on to retire Brian Roberts and preserve the lead.
The Orioles' last good chance came when Davis doubled with one out in the eighth before McGee struck out the next two hitters. Hardy had a leadoff single against Rodney in the ninth, but pinch-runner Alexi Casilla was caught stealing second.
Baltimore finished 2-for-14 with men in scoring position.
Longoria quickly staked Tampa Bay to a 1-0 edge with his second homer in as many days, a two-out blast in the bottom of the first, and the Rays touched Tillman for another run in the second.
Back-to-back singles by Escobar and Joyce put men on first and third with one out. Tillman got Jose Molina to pop up in foul territory on the first pitch, but Kelly Johnson came through with a single through the right side that plated Escobar for a 2-0 advantage.
Valencia, who entered the game 7-of-10 lifetime against Price, doubled home Hardy in the bottom of the second to cut Baltimore's deficit in half. However, the Tampa ace again minimized the damage. With two in scoring position and one out, Price induced a short fly ball from Pearce before retiring Roberts to end the inning.
It was much the same in the bottom of the third. Wieters crushed a one-out double off the wall in center that knocked in Machado with the tying run, but Price fanned Hardy with runners on second and third and Nick Markakis flied out to strand two more.
The Rays had gone 0-6 when Price failed to last seven innings in a start prior to Monday's result ... Tillman had won six straight starts at home and hadn't lost at Camden Yards since a 3-1 setback to the Rays on May 19 ... Longoria's homer was his fourth in 24 career at-bats against Tillman, who has given up seven homers in four 2013 meetings with Tampa Bay ... Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings, out since August 3 with a fractured finger, was activated from the 15-day DL and went 1-for-4 with a walk ... Markakis was dropped to seventh in the batting order, his first time in that slot since May 6, 2007 against Cleveland.