Hammel struggles again and O’s comeback bid falls short against Tampa Bay

As they began a 17-game stretch tonight against the Rays, Yankees, Jays, Nats and Tigers, the Orioles did so with another subpar outing from a starter. And not just any starter, but their opening day starter Jason Hammel.

The right-hander struggled for the third straight start as Tampa Bay held off the Orioles 12-10 in front of 38,061 at Camden Yards.

Hammel’s struggles are the headline on the night, but it almost was the Orioles’ comeback from eight runs down in the eighth to win.

Down 12-4 when the bottom of the eighth began, the Orioles scored six times to close the gap. Five of the six runs scored with two outs on a Matt Wieters two-run single, which made it a 12-7, and a Chris Dickerson three-run homer, which made it 12-10. The Orioles brought the tying run to the plate, but Joel Peralta got Nate McLouth to fly out to end the threat.

After Fernando Rodney suffered a blown save and threw 35 pitches last night, Peralta stayed on in the last of the ninth and retired the side in order to restore order for his team, as Tampa ended up with the victory.

Hammel allowed 10 hits and seven runs over 4 2/3 innings, throwing 99 pitches. Over his past three starts, he has gone a total of 14 2/3 innings, giving up 27 hits and 17 runs (all earned) for an ERA of 10.43.

He is now 5-2 on the season with an ERA of 5.72 through nine starts. After nine starts in 2012, his ERA was 2.78.

The stats don’t get much better when you look at the starting rotation over the last seven games. The starters in that stretch have given up 28 earned runs over 34 1/3 for an ERA of 7.34.

The O’s starters has gone five innings or less in five of the last six games.

Kelly Johnson hit a three-run homer and drove in four for the Rays, who improved to 21-20, winning for the seventh time in the last nine games.

For the Orioles, Chris Davis had a two-run single, J.J. Hardy a solo homer and Manny Machado another double and an RBI groundout. Hardy’s homer was his eight of the year and fifth over his past 11 games.

Starting at second base tonight, Yamaico Navarro had a triple in the fifth and scored with two hits in four at-bats. It was the Orioles’ second triple of the season. McLouth led off the eight with their third and scored on Machado’s second RBI grounder of the night.

During a six-game batting streak, Machado is 15-for-30 with six doubles and four RBIs.

The Orioles have allowed 23 runs during a three-game losing streak. They fall to 23-18 with their fifth loss in the last seven games.

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