Jimenez goes the distance in 7-3 win

ST. PETERBURG, Fla. - Ubaldo Jimenez remains in the Orioles rotation with Chris Tillman on the disabled list, and there’s a competition brewing between the veteran right-hander and Wade Miley. Someone’s got to go unless the Orioles decide on a six-man rotation.

Is Jimenez seizing the moment? Or at least the spot?

Miley allowed four runs and walked four batters in five innings yesterday against the Yankees and has posted a 7.15 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles. Jimenez was coming off back-to-back quality starts today, served up a three-run homer in the first inning and retired 25 of the next 26 batters.

Tillman will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday and is slated to start Sunday against the Tigers at Comerica Park. A rotation that ranked 26th in ERA before yesterday, and that’s an improvement after being 28th not long ago, desperately needs him back and in good health.

Jimenez-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpgJimenez also is giving the rotation what it needs, registering the Orioles’ first complete game in two years in a 7-3 victory over the Rays before 12,256 at Tropicana Field.

Miguel Gonzalez threw the Orioles’ last complete game on Sept. 3, 2014 against the Reds. Jimenez retired the last 17 batters and allowed only two hits. He walked one batter, giving him three free passes over his last three starts, and struck out six.

Jimenez didn’t have a complete game since June 1, 2011 for the Rockies.

No Orioles starter had worked into the ninth inning this season. Jimenez came back out for the ninth today at 100 pitches and Zach Britton began to warm.

Kevin Kiermaier bounced out on one pitch, Matt Duffy flied out and Brad Miller struck out on Jimenez’s 114th pitch.

Jimenez has a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts.

The Orioles scored five runs off Matt Andriese with two outs in the fifth inning to take a 7-3 lead. They had four hits with runners in scoring position after going 0-for-10 yesterday against the Yankees.

Logan Morrison hit a three-run homer off Jimenez with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. Morrison was 5-for-7 against Jimenez after the home run. Jimenez ran his first-inning run total to 21 this season.

The Orioles have allowed 89 runs in the first inning this season and scored 77.

Jimenez retired eight in a row before walking Morrison with one out in the fourth. In the meantime, Chris Davis hit his 34th home run in the top half of the inning and Mark Trumbo doubled and later scored on Andriese’s wild pitch with two outs to reduce the lead to 3-2.

The Orioles almost squandered a chance to go ahead in the fifth after putting runners on the corners with no outs on Hyun Soo Kim’s double and Adam Jones’ single. Pedro Alvarez and Manny Machado struck out, but Davis singled up the middle to score two runs in the key moment in the game.

Trumbo followed with an RBI single after Davis alertly took second on the throw home. Matt Wieters singled, the runners moved up on a wild pitch and Jonathan Schoop delivered a two-run single into center field.

Rays manager Kevin Cash finally decided to get the bullpen active, but it was too late.

Former Orioles knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa replaced Andriese in the sixth and threw three scoreless innings, the only baserunner coming on a walk.

Andriese allowed seven runs and nine hits over five innings, with one walk, seven strikeouts and two wild pitches.

Evan Longoria was removed for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning due to a sore right hand. Jimenez drilled him in the first inning.

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