Orioles lose four-run lead (O’s lose 8-7)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Well, that escalated quickly.

Wei-Yin Chen left tonight’s game after giving up a two-out RBI single to Ben Zobrist in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Orioles led 4-1, and Luis Ayala was called upon to get the final out.

He got it, but not before Evan Longoria singled and Shelley Duncan mashed a three-run homer to left field.

Orioles 4, Rays 4.

Duncan hit into a double play and struck out against Chen, who’s charged with two runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He threw 84 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Zobrist is now 8-for-18 lifetime against Chen.

Brian Matusz was warming in the sixth, but he sat down. Ayala will return for the seventh.

Update: Say this for the Orioles: They answer right back.

Nolan Reimold walked with one out in the top of the seventh, Brian Roberts singled and Nate McLouth delivered an RBI single to right. Reimold made a wide slide to avoid catcher Jose Lobaton’s tag.

That was an aggressive send by new third base coach Bobby Dickerson. Ben Zobrist’s throw was up the third base line and Reimold reached for the plate to score the go-ahead run.

Jeremy Hellickson came out of the game with runners on the corners and one out. Kyle Farnsworth got out of the jam by inducing a double play grounder from Manny Machado.

Pedro Strop will work the seventh inning.

Did you really think it was going to be easy?

Update II: Also say this for the Orioles: Their bullpen is having a bad night.

Strop allowed three runs in the bottom of the seventh, as the Rays took a 7-5 lead.

The Rays defeated the Orioles’ shift, with Matt Joyce reaching on a bunt toward third base and Kelly Johnson poking a single up the middle where shortstop J.J. Hardy normally would have been stationed. Joyce scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

Desmond Jennings fanned for the second out, but pinch hitter James Loney delivered an RBI double and Zobrist followed with an RBI single.

Rays 7, Orioles 5.

Ayala and Strop have combined to allow five runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Ayala also let an inherited runner score.

Last season, Ayala allowed 22 of 50 inherited runners to score (44 percent).

How much blame do you place on Strop, considering that he got burned twice by the shift?

Update III: Chris Davis doubled with two outs in the eighth and scored on Matt Wieters’ single.

Rays 7, Orioles 6.

It’s another two-out run for the Orioles.

Davis has his fourth career four-hit game, the most recent coming Sept. 26, 2009 against the Rays. He’s homered, doubled twice and singled tonight.

The eight current members of the Orioles’ bullpen posted a 1.27 ERA against the Rays last season. You know what happened tonight.

Update IV: The Orioles really do answer back.

Rays closer Fernando Rodney faced two batters and gave up the lead. He walked Reimold in a nine-pitch battle, and Brian Roberts lined an RBI double down the left field line.

Rodney converted 48 of 50 save chances last season.

Roberts moved to third base on McLouth’s sacrifice bunt, but Machado bounced to shortstop Yunel Escobar and Nick Markakis grounded out.

Dickerson had another aggressive send with Reimold. He’s having quite a night.

Update V: Joyce led off the bottom of the ninth by hitting a walk-off home run off Tommy Hunter, who had retired the side in order in the eighth on three fly balls.

Joyce’s fly ball carried over the right field fence.

Hunter fell behind 3-1 before Joyce delivered the first walk-off hit of his career.

Hunter served up 32 homers last season.

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