Pearce justifies decision to play him (O’s win 7-5)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter had to choose tonight whether to use Steve Pearce or Delmon Young as the designated hitter.

Young was 2-for-21 against Rays left-hander Erik Bedard.

Decision made.

Pearce walked twice against Bedard and hit a two-run homer off Brad Boxberger in the top of the seventh to increase the Orioles’ lead to 7-4.

Pearce has five home runs this season to go with a .310 average. He looks pretty good in that second slot in the order.

Caleb Joseph led off the inning with a double and scored on Pearce’s shot to left field. Boxberger started off Pearce with a changeup, then threw a 90 mph fastball that he’d like to have back.

Pearce, a native of Lakeland, Fla., began the night batting .333/.379/.556 in nine career games at Tropicana Field. He’s hit three home runs in 29 at-bats.

Pearce is hitting .319 against right-handers this season.

Ryan Webb retired all five batters he faced after replacing starter Miguel Gonzalez. He’s been scored upon in only one of his last 11 appearances.

Update: Game over. The Orioles ended their two-game skid with a 7-5 win over the Rays before 10,803 at Tropicana Field.

Zach Britton notched his eighth save in nine opportunities, as the Orioles evened the series and improved to 6-1 against the Rays this season.

The Orioles improved to 36-34 and moved within four games of first-place Toronto in the American League East. They’re 20-17 on the road and 7-7 in two-run games.

Pearce doubled in the top of the ninth to raise his average to .317.

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