Gonzalez has his finest day (Teagarden produces winning run)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez did everything within his power to give the Orioles a victory today. He just couldn’t score runs for them.

Gonzalez turned in the best start of his brief major league career, shutting out the Rays on two hits over seven innings. He walked four and struck out four.

Darren O’Day pitched the eighth inning after Gonzalez threw 103 pitches, 59 for strikes. He retired the side in order, keeping the game tied as we head to the top of the ninth.

Gonzalez had his worst outing against the Rays on July 25, allowed seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. He was suffering from flu-like symptoms and didn’t notify the Orioles until after the game.

His stuff was sick today, but in a good way.

Tampa Bay left-hander David Price matched Gonzalez quality pitch for quality pitch. He tossed eight scoreless innings while allowing only two hits, and he retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced.

Meanwhile, Brian Matusz is no longer listed as the starter today for Triple-A Norfolk. He’s been replaced by Zach Clark (UMBC), who was promoted today from Double-A Bowie.

Matusz is being skipped because of a sore hip. He’s tentatively scheduled to pitch again on Friday. Today’s scratch was for precautionary reasons.

Update: Matt Joyce reached on an infield hit against Troy Patton to start the bottom of the ninth, and Luis Ayala entered the game.

Ayala had let 18 of 31 inherited runners score before today. There was a risk.

Sean Rodriguez laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Joyce was tagged out in a rundown between second and third after Ayala fielded Jeff Keppinger’s tapper to the mound. Score it 1-4-5-6.

Ayala walked Carlos Pena intentionally and Ryan Roberts struck out swinging.

The Orioles are 10-2 in extra-inning games and have won 10 in a row. The Rays are 3-3.

Update II: Taylor Teagarden is 3-for-28 as an Oriole, but that includes a walk-off home run and today’s two-out RBI double in the 10th inning off Rays reliever Joel Peralta that broke a scoreless tie.

Mark Reynolds walked with one out and raced home on Teagarden’s double into left-center field with the count full.

Teagarden hadn’t started behind the plate since July 28.

Jim Johnson recorded his 32nd save, and the Orioles took over sole possession of second place in the American League East by winning two of three games from the Rays. The Yankees also won today, so the Orioles remain 6 1/2 games off the division lead.

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