Sands’ two-run pinch homer in eighth breaks tie, Tampa Bay wins series opener

Another quality start, but another loss for the Baltimore Orioles. Another night with not much offense and this one went wrong with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

After the Orioles tied the game 3-3 in the top of the eighth, Brian Matusz came on to face lefty David DeJesus with two outs and a man on first, but the Rays instead sent up pinch hitter Jerry Sands, a right-handed hitter.

Sands hit a two-run homer to left on a 2-0 pitch to snap the tie and lift Tampa Bay to a 5-4 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field. Delmon Young’s pinch-hit homer in the ninth pulled the O’s within a run but they lost by that margin.

Tampa Bay (28-43) has the worst record in the majors but won for the fourth time in five games after a 1-14 stretch. The Rays are now 1-5 against the Orioles this year and lead the all-time series, 142-141.

Earlier, the Orioles rallied to tie the game after falling behind 3-0 when Ryan Hanigan hit a two-run homer in the fourth. It was his first since April 19.

In the sixth, Nick Markakis led off with a double to tie Ken Singleton for sixth on the O’s all-time hits list with 1,455. He scored an out later when Adam Jones crushed a 1-2 pitch from Jake Odorizzi for a two-run homer. It was his second homer in two games, fifth in 13 games and 12th on the year.

Grant Balfour came on in the eight to protect the 3-2 lead but was greeted by leadoff singles by Markakis (to pass Singleton at 1,456 hits) and Manny Machado. After Jones flied out, Jake McGee replaced Balfour. Later in the inning the Orioles tied it 3-3 on a high chop infield single to third by Nelson Cruz. But J.J. Hardy struck out and Steve Pearce grounded out as the game stayed tied.

Starter Wei-Yin Chen provided the club with its eighth straight quality start, allowing six hits and three runs over 6 2/3 innings. O’s starters have an ERA of 1.86 in this stretch but the club is just 4-4 in the eight games.

Now 35-34 on the year and 17-12 against the AL East, Miguel Gonzalez comes off the disabled list tomorrow (3-4, 4.17 ERA) to pitch against former Oriole Erik Bedard (3-4, 3.83).

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