ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Wei-Yin Chen surrendered his 29th home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning, with Ben Zobrist taking him deep to break a scoreless tie.
Chen has surrendered six homers in his last four starts, and at least one in six of his last seven outings.
Zobrist also singled in the first inning and is 7-for-14 lifetime against Chen.
The Orioles’ offense tends to fade when Chen pitches, and their bats must have been left behind in Jacksonville. They have one hit off Rays starter Alex Cobb in five innings. J.J. Hardy singled with one out in the fourth.
Chen has been stuck on 12 wins since Aug. 19, going 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in six starts. The Orioles have scored 10 runs in those games while Chen was on the mound. They’ve scored three runs or fewer 16 times in 24 starts while he’s been in the game.
Meanwhile, the Yankees lead the Red Sox, 9-0, after two innings. Clay Buchholz was charged with eight of those runs.
Considering that CC Sabathia is facing the Fort Myers Red Sox, I think a nine-run lead is safe. The pressure is on the Orioles to keep pace.
Update: Matt Wieters hit an opposite-field home run with one out in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, 1-1, but the Rays answered back to lead, 4-1.
Cobb held the Orioles to two hits, but Wieters sent a line drive to left that barely cleared the short fence at the 315 foot sign for his 23rd homer of the season. Wieters leads the team with 83 RBIs.
The Orioles have hit 15 home runs in their last five games. They’ve scored 32 runs in their last five, with 25 coming via the long ball.
Evan Longoria opened the bottom of the seventh by reaching on Manny Machado’s fielding error. He took third on Jeff Keppinger’s single to right and scored on Ben Francisco’s sacrifice fly to left.
Sam Fuld singled with one out, and No. 9 hitter Chris Gimenez delivered a two-out, two-run double to give Tampa a 4-1 lead.
All three runs were unearned. Chen is charged with four runs (one earned) and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches, 71 for strikes.
Chen had retired nine in a row before the error.
Update II: Kyle Farnsworth entered in the top of the ninth with Rays leading, 5-1. Hardy reached on an infield hit and took second on an error, and Chris Davis followed with his sixth homer in the last five games, and his 32nd on the season.
The Rays argued that the ball hit one of the catwalks that should have limited Davis to a double, but the umpires said it hit the C ring - the third ball to strike it this season. Only at The Trop, where the announced crowd tonight was 13,666.
Fernandy Rodney replaced Farnsworth and gave up a single to Adam Jones and an infield hit to Wieters. Thome and Reynolds struck out, and pinch-hitter Endy Chavez tapped to the mound.
Rays 5, Orioles 3.