Tampa Bay Rays’ Bullpen Fails Again as Baltimore Orioles Rally to Win

Baltimore Orioles’ Joey Rickard (23) is congratulated by manager Buck Showalter and Jonathan Schoop (6) after a hit. File photo by David Tulis/UPI

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been a late come-from-behind team much this season, but they enjoyed that role Sunday, rallying in the ninth inning for an 8-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

“We just want to play some crisp baseball games,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after winning his second straight game and getting 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from his bullpen while Tampa Bay’s relievers struggled.

Baltimore scored three runs in the ninth against Rays closer Alex Colome (1-3), who struggled for the second straight outing.

Joey Rickard put Baltimore ahead with an RBI ground-rule double, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, Colome hit Jonathan Schoop to bring in a second run. Rickard scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.

The Rays (40-38) had been 35-3 this season when leading after seven innings and the Orioles (37-38) had been 3-34 when trailing after seven.

“Not the way we wanted to finish off a homestand here,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “At the end of the day, their lineup, especially the bottom of the lineup, caused a lot of damage.”

Baltimore right-hander Brad Brach (2-1) picked up the win in relief, pitching the final two innings, includng a 1-2-3 ninth. The Rays hadn’t lost a home series since they dropped three of four to the Royals in early May.

The bullpen struggles started an inning earlier as Rays reliever Chase Whitley, trying to hold a one-run lead in the eighth, gave up a solo home run to Schoop, his 15th homer of the season to tie the score at 5.

Colome, who had given up four earned runs in his last 19 appearances entering the week, has now allowed five in his last two outings, raising his ERA to 3.15.

“If you miss one pitch, they can take it,” Colome said. “If I have to pitch tomorrow, I’d do the same thing. I don’t have to change anything.”

In the fifth inning, the Rays got to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who came in with an 8.39 ERA, as Mallex Smith and Corey Dickerson singled, setting up a three-run homer by Evan Longoria to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.

Longoria’s 12th home run of the season went to left field and shifted momentum back to the home team, which had won seven straight rubber games and had split the first two games of the series with Baltimore.

“They’re constantly good,” Tillman said of his bullpen after the game. “They’re always good. They’re solid if you give them a chance. When you set them up to pitch where they need to be pitching, they’re pretty darn good.”

Baltimore got within a run on Trey Mancini’s solo home run in the sixth off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi — his 11th straight appearance giving up a home run, the longest such streak by a Rays pitcher since James Shields served one up in 10 consecutive games in 2006 and matching the franchise mark set by Wilson Alvarez (11 in 1998).

The Orioles had jumped ahead with a two-run rally in the second inning — Caleb Joseph singled, Craig Gentry doubled, and both scored on a double by Paul Janish off Odorizzi.

The Rays’ first two runs were brought in by second baseman Taylor Featherston, who had an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 3-2 after Joseph added a solo home run.

NOTES: The Rays are making a change to their starting rotation, with LHP Blake Snell rejoining the group Wednesday after a solid stint in the minors. RHP Erasmo Ramirez will move back to the bullpen to make room, and Tampa Bay will need to make a roster move before Wednesday to open a 25-man spot for Snell. … Baltimore will have RHP Kevin Gausman on the mound Tuesday as the Orioles open a three-game series at Toronto. Tampa Bay will start RHP Alex Cobb on Tuesday to open a three-game set at Pittsburgh. … An official scoring change was made to Friday’s game. DH Mark Trumbo’s fourth-inning single has been changed to an error on Rays SS Tim Beckham. That makes an ensuing run unearned, so RHP Chris Archer’s season ERA drops from 3.97 to 3.88.

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