ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - This is no way to end a five-game losing streak.
The Rays sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and scored five runs to take a 5-0 lead against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
The rotation posted an 8.10 ERA in the past four games, and Chen is going to inflate that number.
Chen gave up five hits in the first, including Hideki Matsui’s two-run bomb to right field with two outs. He also walked two batters and didn’t return to the dugout until striking out Rays leadoff hitter Carlos Pena, who doubled to begin the inning.
Former Oriole Luke Scott grounded a two-run single into center field, and Sean Rodriguez laid down a sacrifice bunt that produced another run. Matsui followed with his second home run, and Dana Eveland began to warm up in the bullpen.
Chen threw 36 pitches in the inning. Now he’s forced the Orioles to play from behind against David Price.
Chen hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in eight of his nine starts this season. The most he’s surrendered is six against the Nationals on May 20.
Update: Price retired the first 13 Orioles before Matt Wieters singled into right field in the fifth inning. Wieters was 7-for-65 before ending Price’s bid for a perfect game.
Chen hasn’t allowed a hit since Matsui’s home run. He’s walked four, but the Rays haven’t built on their 5-0 lead as we head to the bottom of the fifth.
Update II: The Orioles appeared to score their first run in the top of the fifth inning after loading the bases with one out on walks to Bill Hall and Robert Andino, and a single by Steve Tolleson. J.J. Hardy lifted a fly ball to center field, but B.J. Upton threw out Tolleson at second base before Hall crossed home plate.
The fly ball appeared deep enough to score Hall easily. Instead, the Orioles still trailed, 5-0.
Chen lasted 5 2/3 innings. All five runs and five hits off him came in the first. He walked four and struck out five. Chen threw 94 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Chen retired the last 10 batters he faced, 12 of 13 and 14 of 16.
The Orioles’ rotation has allowed 23 earned runs in the last five games covering 25 2/3 innings.
It all starts with starting pitching.
Update III: The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on singles by Hardy, Adam Jones and Wieters. Fernando Rodney replaced Burke Badenhop and struck out Mark Reynolds.
Chris Davis grounded to first, and the Orioles were handed a 5-0 loss - their first shutout of the season.
The Orioles don’t have an extra-base hit in their last two games. They’ve lost six in a row and nine of 11. And they’re no longer in first place in the American League East.