Rays get to Matusz early, take series finale 9-6

The Orioles won two of their first three series this year against Tampa Bay, and when they beat the Rays 7-0 on Friday, three out of four was looking quite realistic.

But the Orioles could not close out the game last night and Brian Matusz exited early today as the Rays won 9-6 to win the series.

Matusz faced 13 hitters and 10 reached base on five hits, four walks and an error. He gave up four runs in just 1 1/3, throwing 52 pitches. He falls to 1-1 this season with an ERA of 5.11 after three starts.

Johnny Damon led off the game with a homer, his 27th career leadoff homer and his eighth homer of 2011. He added an RBI hit in the third and Kelly Shoppach’s two-run single in the seventh gave Tampa a four-run lead.

Evan Longoria hit an inside-the-park, two-run homer on a liner to center in the eighth that got by Adam Jones and went all the way to the wall. It was the ninth inside-the-park homer in Rays history.

Jones and Vlad Guerrero hit back-to-back solo homers in the O’s first inning. It’s the second time the O’s have gone back-to-back this season. Jones and Luke Scott did it April 27 against Boston. Jones added a double and two RBIs.

Scott added a 438-foot solo homer to center in the eighth for the Orioles, who are 6-6 on the year against Tampa.

With the loss, the Orioles completed a 5-4 homestand where they lost two of three series but swept Oakland in the middle.

The Orioles are now 30-33 on the year, 20-18 at home, 8-14 in series finales, 9-16 against the AL East and 11-9 over their past 20 games.

The Birds are off Monday and then begin a three-city, nine-game road trip Tuesday at Toronto.

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