O’s can’t hold leads, are un­able to sweep

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Eduardo A. Encina eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

ST. PETERS­BURG, FLA. — The Ori­oles were un­able to pull off their first three-game road sweep of the sea­son, fall­ing, 7-6, to the Tampa Bay Rays in Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon’s se­ries fi­nale at Trop­i­cana Field.

The Ori­oles took the lead three times but failed to hold it each time. Re­liever My­chal Givens yielded a two-out RBI dou­ble to Corey Dick­er­son in the sev­enth in­ning to break a tie at 6.

The Ori­oles en­tered the day one game be­hind the divi­sion-lead­ing Toronto Blue Jays and Bos­ton Red Sox in the Amer­i­can League East. The Ori­oles (76-63) head to Detroit — the Tigers en­tered Wed­nes­day one game be­hind them for the sec­ond AL wild card — for three games be­fore end­ing their nine-game road trip in Bos­ton.

“I tell our guys to stay fo­cused on how much fun it is to be play­ing these types of games,” Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “Our guys aren’t dread­ing it all. They are look­ing for­ward to be­ing in that arena, to be­ing on that stage be­cause they’ve earned the right to be there. Lot of clubs would love to change places with us.”

Givens was one strike away from pitch­ing a score­less sev­enth be­fore Dick­er­son’s even­tual game-win­ning hit. Givens had struck out two of the three bat­ters he faced, but al­lowed a sin­gle to Mikie Mah­took, who scored when Dick­er­son lifted a ball into the gap in left-cen­ter, just out of the reach of cen­ter fielder Adam Jones.

Givens (8-2) has al­lowed seven runs in eight in­nings over his past eight ap­pear­ances, for a 7.88 ERA.

After pulling away in the first two games of the se­ries, the Ori­oles let the Rays (59-79) hang around but also didn’t get a third straight strong start­ing pitch­ing per­for­mance. Rookie Dy­lan Bundy failed to make it out of the fourth in­ning for his short­est out­ing in 10 starts.

Bundy’s short­est two starts of his brief ca­reer have come against the Rays. Bundy al­lowed five runs over 32⁄ in­nings Wed­nes­day, his short­est start since he went just 31⁄ in his first ma­jor league start July 17 at the Rays.

The Ori­oles re­gained the lead in the fifth in­ning on new­comer Drew Stubbs’ run-scor­ing sin­gle. But Dick­er­son’s two-out RBI sin­gle off re­liever Oliver Drake in the bot­tom of the fifth in­ning tied the game at 6. The Ori­oles had just one hit over the fi­nal four in­nings.

Rays left-han­der Drew Smyly had his short­est start of the sea­son, as the Ori­oles chased him after 32⁄ in­nings. He al­lowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks.

Smyly was hurt by two wild pitches in the sec­ond in­ning, in­clud­ing one that put two run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion be­fore J.J. Hardy’s two-run dou­ble. An­other run scored on a passed ball in the third.

Trail­ing by a run, the Ori­oles put the ty­ing run in scor­ing po­si­tion with one out in the eighth — Stubbs drew a lead­off walk and Re­liever Oliver Drake gave up a twoout RBI sin­gle to Corey Dick­er­son in the fifth in­ning to tie the game at 6. moved to sec­ond on a sac­ri­fice bunt — but Jones and Michael Bourn struck out. A good im­pres­sion: Late-Au­gust trade ac­qui­si­tions Bourn and Stubbs made their first starts with the Ori­oles on Wed­nes­day and both con­trib­uted of­fen­sively.

Bourn, who en­tered the day 4-for-9 in his ca­reer off Smyly, hit a solo homer off him to open the third, ty­ing the game at 3. It was Bourn’s first home run off a left-han­der since Aug. 17, 2013.

“I’m thank­ful for the home run,” Bourn said, “but I wanted to get that vic­tory.”

Stubbs reached base three times — on two sin­gles and a walk — and had a two-out RBI sin­gle off Rays re­liever Ryan Gar­ton in the fifth to give the Ori­oles a 6-5 lead.

“We knew that Bourn had a lit­tle luck off Smyly and I wanted to get him out there,” Showal­ter said. “Drew, it helps us as we go down the road what we can ex­pect from them. We are also in a time of need of some guys who are banged up.”

CHRIS O’MEARA/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Starters: Kevin Gaus­man (7-10, 3.58) vs. Tigers’ Michael Ful­mer (10-6, 2.77) The Tigers en­tered Wed­nes­day with the low­est ERA in the AL since the All-Star break (3.46). The O’s are at 4.41.

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